White Cloud (1784? - 1834)
White Cloud was a leader of the Ioway, or Baxoje (pronounced bock-HO-jay), people during a very difficult time in their history. When he was a young man, European American settlers were rare in Missouri and the Ioway were able to live as they had for centuries. But as he grew older and the population of white settlers became larger, his people struggled to live in the quickly changing world. White Cloud worked hard to make sure that his people survived in this new environment. Some of the decisions he made were not popular with the United States government and others made some of his own people angry.
White Cloud was born sometime around 1784, probably in a village along the Des Moines River where the present states of Iowa and Missouri meet. Like all Ioway children of his time, White Cloud had many names. When he was born, his parents gave him a birth name. When he was still a child, the elders of his clan, the Bear Clan, gave him a clan name. As he became a man and proved his bravery in battle, he may have chosen a name to remind others of his courage, or to mark an important event in his life. All of these names have been forgotten and we only know that he was called White Cloud. European Americans also commonly called him Mahaska. This name comes from MaxúThka (pronounced mock-WHO-thka), which means “White Cloud” in the language of the Ioway people.
When White Cloud was still too young to have had a chance to prove himself as a warrior, some Dakota Sioux men killed his father, MaHága (pronounced ma-HA-ga), or “Wounding Arrow,” in an ambush. Because Wounding Arrow was an Ioway leader, White Cloud was expected to take his father’s place.
Over the next few years, White Cloud worked to prove his bravery in battle. By that time the Ioways were living in what is now northern Missouri. With the help of the Sacs and Foxes, the Ioways were able to hunt as far south as the Missouri River. The river marked the beginning of the territory that belonged to their enemies, the Osage tribe. As a young man, White Cloud claimed to have fought in eighteen battles. Many of those were against the Osage.