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Ames park honors Ioway, a tribe with long history in Iowa

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The park between South Maple Road and South Grand Avenue in Ames is pictured Nov. 10. The Ames City Council has renamed it to Ioway Creek Park. 

AMES (AP) — An Ames park will now be named Ioway Creek Park to align with the creek’s name change earlier this year.

The Ames City Council voted unanimously this month to change the name of the city’s Squaw Creek Park to Ioway Creek Park.

In February, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names changed the name of Squaw Creek, a 42-mile-long tributary of the South Skunk River, to Ioway Creek, as the original name is considered derogatory to Native Americans.

The Ames Tribune reports that an Indigenous teen, Fawn Stubben, pushed for the change in the 1990s, but the proposal wasn’t considered until Ames resident Jasmine Martin applied to the federal board in 2019. The Ames City Council and Story County Board of Supervisors both voted in support of the change.

The current name honors the Ioway, an Indigenous tribe that once lived in parts of Iowa.

Creek sign names have since been adjusted around Ames, but there were still remnants of the former name, including Squaw Creek Drive. The street was renamed Stonehaven Drive as part of the meeting’s consent agenda.

Council member Gloria Betcher said before approving the name change that people have asked for months why many signs and landmarks in the city do not reflect the creek’s new name.

“We’ve been telling them, ‘It’s coming’,” Betcher said.

The council addressed another holdout Tuesday: Squaw Creek Park.

The park, which is also home to a community garden, sits east of the new Grand Avenue extension and west of South Maple Avenue.

But Ioway Creek Park wasn’t the only name discussed for the park.

The Parks and Recreation Commission accepted applications for a new name, receiving suggestions that it be named Sustaining Plotworks Park, Grandwood Park, Gardens Park, Elysian Gardens and the South Maple Community Gardens Park.

Another suggestion, Lyda Conley Memorial Park and Gardens, would have honored Eliza Burton “Lyda” Conley, a Wyandot-American lawyer of Native American and European descent and the first woman to pass the bar in Kansas, according to city staff.

“What better way to rebuke (the use of Squaw) than to name the park after a strong, accomplished and historically significant Native American woman?” the applicant wrote, according to a staff report.

The parks commission voted unanimously to recommend Ioway Creek to the council, as none of the submissions had direct ties to the park. For the same reason, City Manager Steve Schainker recommended the council approve the Iowa Creek Park name, too.


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