Dawson Davenport is a member of the Meskwaki Nation and grew up on the Settlement near Tama, Iowa, where he was raised by his maternal grandparents. He tells stories about his experiences as a Native, both the challenges he has faced and the Meskwaki way of life. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in art and a certificate in entrepreneurial management. He spends his time in Iowa City and the Meskwaki Settlement as an entrepreneur, doing graphic design, running his clothing brand called Daepian Apparel, and opening a Native arts gallery in Iowa City.
“I am the maternal grandson of Abyekoneaka and Eskibakakea. Their white names are Curtis Davenport and Lois Waseskuk Davenport. I am Makatenenemekiwa. Translated, it means “Black Thunder.” But you can call me Dawson.
I was given a Thunder Clan name by my great-grandfather Wabinenemekiwa. Meskwakis are born into a clan system based on our fathers. Clans are responsible for certain things within our tribe; to my understanding, Thunder Clan, or Wemiko, is responsible for peace and for interpreting on behalf of the tribe. I understand that the Thunder Clan is also responsible for taking care of everything associated with storms. A thunderstorm starts with overcast skies, and then that cold or warm front comes through. It brings with it the Thunder beings, very old spirits who come by to bless us and carry away the bad things with their high winds and heavy rains. At least, that’s how they explained it to me when I was little.“