Illinois has a rich history that is based on the Native American population that lived and still lives here today. In fact, the name “Illinois” comes from an Algonquian word Illiniwek, which means “the people.” To celebrate the history and remember these native people, November is recognized as Native American Heritage month.
The Illinois tribe was a large and powerful nation that occupied much of the Mississippi River valley. In colonial times, they became allies with French fur traders and other colonists who lived among them. Over time, the Illinois tribes were forced to leave and move to reservations in Oklahoma. Today, many Illinois Native Americans are part of the Peoria Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.
To learn more about the Native Americans that lived here and in other parts of the country, try a few new things.
- Read a book. There are hundreds of books that document that history of Native Americans, like 1491: New Revelations of the Americans Before Columbus, written by Charles C. Mann.
- Watch a lacrosse game. Lacrosse may be the true American sport, as it was developed by Native Americans as early as the 12th It was played as a celebration of spiritual life and games could last for days with people rotating in and out of teams.
- Try a new recipe. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, which also celebrates our ties to Native Americans, try a few new recipes that use native foods grown right here.