According to William Whittaker, Research Director at the University of Iowa Office of the State Archeologist, “Johnson County was likely the territory of the Oneota-descended tribes until about 1800. These would include the Ioway, Otoe, Missouria, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago)… In the late 1700s the Sauk and Meskwaki largely took over this area, having been pushed into the Mississippi valley from the Great Lakes. In the 1830s, they had many camps and villages along the Iowa River in Johnson County. In 1843 they were pushed out of the area, and then out of the state.”
The land where our blueberry grove and house are located probably didn’t have any Native American settlements or villages, since it’s some distance from the Iowa River. Even so, Native Americans likely moved across the area. We haven’t found any artifacts, though (only a 1950s-era toaster oddly buried deep beneath the barn).
The stars of this land are the enormous old bur oak trees, as you’ll see when you visit. The land is categorized as an oak savanna—that is, a lightly forested grassland, where oaks—in our area, bur oaks—are the dominant trees. These savannas were maintained historically through wildfires set by lightning or humans, grazing, low precipitation, and/or poor soil.