Potawatomi of Illinois

The American Library Association would like to acknowledge the indigenous history of the state of Illinois and recognize the Potawatomi Tribe. 

Long before any European set foot in was is now present day Illinois, there were several Native tribes in existence. They were the Chickasaw, Dakota Sioux, Ho-Chunk, Illini (Illinois tribe), the Miami, and Shawnee tribes.  By the 1660s, European settlers began arriving in “Chicaugou” or the “wild onion” as it was named by the Potawatomi tribe who primarily occupied Chicago at this time. 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. Ojibbwe) tribes.

After the European settlement, more tribes migrated into Illinois. They were the Delaware, Kickapoo, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sac and Fox, and Wyandot tribes. Unfortunately, the Potawatomi and other tribes were forced to move west of the Mississippi River in the 1830s by the federal government via Indian Removal Act. After World War I, direct descendants of these tribes began to return to Chicagoland.  Now, Chicago is the third largest urban Native American population in the country with a representation of over one-hundred tribal nations.