The state is named after one tribe, the Illiniwek. The Illiniwek were composed of twelve smaller tribes. Among them were the Cahokia, Peoria, and Kaskaskia. The Grand Village of the Kaskaskia was one of their biggest villages.
The word Illinois is derived from the Native American word “iliniwok” or “illiniwek,” which literally means “best people”; it was used to refer to the 10 to 12 tribes found around the river.
The most prominent tribes in Illinois were the Illinois, Miami, Winnebago, Fox and Sacs (Sauk), Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie tribes. The Illinois Native Americans were composed of five subdivisions including Kaskaskias, Cahokias, Tamaroas, Peorias, and Metchigamis.
The Prairie State gets its official name from Native Americans. Illinois comes from “Illiniwek,” which is what the Illini people were called. The name means “best people.” Illinois is the spelling we use for the indigenous people the French explorers encountered in the region in the late 17th century.
Land Acknowledgement The state of Illinois is currently home to more than 75,000 tribal members and the Chicagoland area is currently home to one of the largest and most diverse urban Native communities in the U.S. Illinois is also the territory of Ho-Chunk, Miami, Inoka, Menominee, Sac, Fox, and their descendants.
THE STATE NICKNAMES:
The Potawatomi tribe, which means, “ Keepers of the Fire,” lived along Calumet, Chicago, and Des Plaines. As keepers of the fire, Potawatomi belongs to the Council of Three Fires, in an alliance of the Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa (Ojibwa.
The Illinois, like many Native American groups, sustained themselves through agriculture, hunting, and fishing. A partially nomadic group, the Illinois often lived in longhouses and wigwams, according to the season and resources that were available to them in the surrounding land.
Low says between 25 and 30 tribes might claim the Chicago area as part of their ancestral lands. The dominant tribes at that time were the Potawatomie, Ojibwa and Odawa. But there were others, too, such as the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk.
The first group–known to French explorers and missionaries as the Illinois or Illiniwek Indians– was a collection of twelve tribes that occupied a large section of the central Mississippi River valley, including most of what is today Illinois.
The Illini were original inhabitants of modern-day Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa. The Illini tribe was nearly wiped out by war in the 1700’s, and the survivors had to move to Kansas and Oklahoma. The Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma is made up of Illinois Indians.
There are no federally recognized Indian tribes in Illinois today. The Indian tribes of Illinois are not extinct, but like many other native tribes, they were forced to move to Indian reservations in Oklahoma by the American government. You can find their present-day locations by clicking on the tribal links above.
As time passed, their population declined and many of their traditional ways of life changed as they adapted to new situations. Eventually the Illinois were forced to leave their traditional lands and move west to Indian Territory.
The name “Chicago” is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, known to botanists as Allium tricoccum, from the Miami-Illinois language. The tribe was part of the Miami Confederacy, which included the Illini and Kickapoo.
— Nearly 9,000 Cherokees passed through Southern Illinois between November, 1838, and January, 1839, on their fateful Trail of Tears as the government forced them to abandoned their homes in the Great Smokies to go west to Oklahoma. Very little of the history of the Cherokee’s time in Southern Illinois remains.
not ceded or handed over; unyielded. The reserves are unceded lands, remnants of the realm of old.