Long before any European set foot in what is now Illinois, there were several native tribes. They were the Chickasaw, Dakota Sioux, Ho-Chunk, Illini (Illinois tribe), Miami, and Shawnee tribes. At the dawn of the historical era, when European explorers first entered the land that we now call the state of Illinois, they encountered a people that the world knew as the Illinois or Illiniwek Indians. The Illinois were a populous and powerful nation that occupied a large part of the Mississippi River Valley.
They became important allies of the French fur traders and colonists who came to live with them, and they played a key role in the early history of what would later become the Midwest of the United States. Illinois, a confederation of small Algonquian-speaking North American Indian tribes that originally spanned what are now southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois and parts of Missouri and Iowa. The best-known Illinois tribes were the Cahokia, the Kaskaskia, the Michigamea, the Peoria, and the Tamaroa. A number of Native American cultures had lived or were living in the region of the tall grass prairies long before the arrival of the Euro-American colonists.
Miami would later cede all of that land to the United States in several treaties, except for the 2.6 million acres of east-central Illinois land at issue in the lawsuit. In his drawing, which shows six Illinois Indians (standing or squatting, top left), de Batz created one of the first known depictions of Illinois clothing, hairstyles, body decoration, and armaments. The tribes that came to east-central Illinois fought with the Illiniwek for land and resources and brought diseases such as smallpox. Instead of suing the federal government or the state of Illinois, tribal leaders filed lawsuits against 15 landowners, with one parcel of land in each of the 15 counties included in the 2.6 million acres.
Because of this, the tribes of east-central Illinois didn't get too much trouble from white settlers in that area. The assassination of the Ottawa chief, Pontiac, by an individual from Illinois triggered the revenge of several Northern Algonquian tribes, further reducing the population of Illinois. Due to a series of military defeats at the hands of the Ottawa war chief, Pontiac, and numerous tribes, Great Britain banned British settlements west of the. After the United States overthrew the British during the Revolutionary War, new American colonists began to flow west.
In 1832, Illinoisans sold the land they had held and moved to Kansas and then to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). However, the story took a surprising turn in 2000, when the leaders of the Oklahoma tribe in Miami filed a federal lawsuit to claim 2.6 million acres of land in Illinois, including land in Champaign County. Although the first known accounts of the arrival of Europeans to Illinois tell of the passage of Louis Joliet and Father Marquette through the Des Plaines River area in 1673, European influence was already present through the trade that developed in the Great Lakes region. The Grouseland Treaty states that “no part of the land guaranteed to the Miami tribe by treaty could be transferred without the express consent of the Miami tribe.
The Illinois economy combined agriculture with foraging; women grew corn and other plant foods, small groups gathered forest mammals and wild plants year-round, and most members of a given village participated in one or more winter prairie bison hunts. Another part of the story comes from archeology, as several of the village sites historically occupied by Illinoisans have been excavated by archaeologists.