Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Fox were hunter-farmers whose subsistence focused on deer, bison, maize, squash, beans, and pumpkins. Trapping and hunting for the fur trade became an important part of the economic pattern very soon after European contact. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the seasonal pattern of economic activities included planting crops in May and June and harvesting in the early autumn, after which the summer villages dispersed and the people journeyed to their hunting grounds. Hunts were also carried out during the summer growing season. Midwinter was spent in temporary camps in sheltered river bottoms where the people remained until hunting activities were renewed in the early spring. In April the dispersed families returned to their summer village and initiated a new cycle of agricultural activities.
Since the 1950s, commuting to work in nearby cities has been an important part of the economic pattern of Fox living near Tama, Iowa. Tribal income is derived from renting tribal lands to local farmers.
Industrial Arts. The Fox displayed a typical Woodland pattern, relying on the bow and arrow for hunting and warfare. Clothes were made from deerskin. Aboriginal manufactures were quickly replaced with items obtained from Europeans.
Trade. Apart from furs taken to obtain European trade goods, hides and tallow, a by-product of deer hunting, and lead ore obtained through surface mining were important trade items for the Fox during the historic period.
Division of Labor. Traditionally men hunted, and women were responsible for growing crops and gathering roots, nuts, berries, and animal by-products such as honey and beeswax.
Land Tenure. When they settled near Tama, Iowa, in 1857, the Fox purchased 80 acres of land; since that time additional land purchases have brought tribal holdings to 3,476 acres.