Wapello (chief)

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This article is about the Native American chief. For the town, see Wapello, Iowa. For the county, see Wapello County, Iowa. For the ship, see USS Wapello (YN-56).
Chief Wapello; "Wa-pel-la the Prince, Musquakee Chief", from History of the Indian Tribes of North America.

Wapello (1787–1842) was a Native American chief of the Meskwaki tribe.

Early life[edit]

Wapello was born in 1787 at Prairie du Chien, Northwest Territory. in what is now the state of Wisconsin. Short and stout in physical stature, with a kindly visage, Wapello entertained friendly relations with white settlers throughout his life, signing treaties with them at Fort Armstrong on 3 September 1822, at Prairie du Chien on 15 July 1830, again at Fort Armstrong on 21 September 1832, at Dubuque, Iowa, on 28 September 1836, and at Washington, D.C., on 21 October 1837. During the Black Hawk War, Wapello supported Keokuk.[1]

Settling in Iowa[edit]

In 1829, he led his tribe to Muscatine Slough on the west bank of the Mississippi River and later settled near the present site of the town of Wapello, Iowa. In 1837, he accompanied the renowned chief Keokuk and Indian agent General Joseph M. Street on a tour of northeastern and mideastern states. During this trip, Wapello made an eloquent speech at Boston, Massachusetts, wherein he expressed friendly sentiments towards white settlers and reaffirmed his desire to continue harmonious relations with them.


While on a hunting trip near the Skunk River east of Ottumwa, Iowa, Wapello died on 15 March 1842. He was later buried in accordance with his oft-expressed wish that he be laid to rest alongside his good friend General Street, at the site of the government agency in what is now a small park named Chief Wapello's Memorial Park located southeast of Agency, Iowa.[2]

In Iowa, the city of Wapello and Wapello County are named for him, as was USS Wapello (YN-56), a United States Navy net tender in commission from 1941 to 1946.

A large, 450 pound, statue of Chief Wapello has resided atop the Wapello County, Iowa courthouse in Ottumwa for many decades. The statue and its mounting base received severe damage during a thunderstorm in June, 2012 forcing temporary removal. After repair, restoration, and upgrae of the base with stainless steel the statue has been returned to its rooftop position on March 13, 2014.[3]


External links[edit]