Be on the lookout if you are driving around Tama to see Iowa’s first dual language sign.

A crowd gathered on Wednesday morning to witness the unveiling of this new type of road sign in Iowa. The new sign was unveiled by the Iowa Department of Transportation Wednesday morning to honor the Meskwaki heritage.

On a Facebook post from the Iowa DOT:

There was a great crowd on hand along U.S. 30 near Tama this morning for the unveiling of Iowa's first dual-language road sign honoring the Meskwaki heritage. Thanks to the many partners who worked to make this happen!

The sign reads “Meskwakilnaki” which honors the heritage and their settlement in Tama County.

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Historically, the Meskwaki tribe has been located along the Canadian border, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. In Iowa, the Meskwaki people were known as the Sac & Fox.

Iowa’s Sac & Fox Tribe is the only federal and state-recognized tribe in the state according to the NCSL.

Why have a dual language sign?

  • Helps tribes revitalize their language
  • Teach people about pre-settlement names of geographic features
  • Creates a sense of place
  • Connect the public to Native American history
  • Support the Iowan/local tribe in that area
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

This isn’t the only dual language sign in the Midwest that honors tribal land.

In Wisconsin, the Department of Transportation offers dual language signs on tribal lands that welcome travelers into the communities. These signs are in both English and native languages.

Wisconsin’s first dual language sign was installed in November 2021 in Red Cliff which translates to Gaa-Miskwaabikaang ( ga-misk-wah-be-kong) in Ojibwe.


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