History of Illinois

This illustrated article provides interesting facts, information and a history timeline of the Native American Indians of Illinois.

The climate, land, history, environment and natural resources that were available to the indigenous Indian tribes in Illinois resulted in the adoption of the Northeast Woodlands culture

Discover the history, interesting facts and information about the way of life of the Illinois Indians before the arrival of the white European settlers and colonists.

History of Native Americans
Native Indian Tribes Index

History of Illinois Indians
Factors that contributed to the history of the state are detailed in the History Timeline. The history timeline shows the impact of the new comers to the state.

Stone Age History of Illinois
The American Native Indians who lived in what is now the present state of Illinois led a Stone Age lifestyle - they only had stone tools and weapons, had never seen a horse and had no knowledge of the wheel. The history of the Illinois Indians are detailed in this article.

Map of Illinois
The map of Illinois provides a bird's eye view of the location of the tribal territories and homelands of the Illinois Indians in relation to the present day United States of America. The map indicates the location of the State and the American Native Indians of Illinois.


State Map of Illinois

State Map showing location of Illinois Indians

State Map showing location of Illinois Indians


Names of the Illinois Indian Tribes
At the point of contact with the Europeans there were two Native American groups inhabited the State of Illinois. The Illinois Indians was a collection of twelve tribes and the Miami tribes who lived in villages. There are many famous Native American tribes who played a part in the history of the state and whose tribal territories and homelands are located in the present day state of Illinois. The names of the Illinois tribes included the Illinois tribe (Illini), Iroquois, Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Miami, Shawnee, Sauk and Fox tribes.

The Illinois Confederacy
The Illinois confederacy of Algonquian tribes who inhabited parts of Wisconsin, consisted of a group of six united tribes called the Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Moingwena, Peoria, and Tamaroa. They were all part of the Algonquian family. The word 'Illini' meant "superior men." The enemies of the Illinois Confederacy were the illinois were almost constantly harassed by the Sioux, Fox, and other northern tribes.

Fast Facts about the History of Illinois Indians
The way of life and history of Illinois Indians was dictated by the natural raw materials available in the State of Illinois. The natural resources and materials available provided the food, clothing and houses of the Illinois Indians. Fast facts about the history, culture and life of the State of Illinois Indians. Discover facts and information about the history of the State of Illinois Indians.

  • Name of State: Illinois
  • Meaning of State name: Meaning “Men or warriors,” the name of a confederacy of Algonquian tribes.
  • Geography, Environment and Characteristics of the State of Illinois: Prairies and fertile plains throughout; open hills in the southern region
  • Culture adopted by Illinois Indians: Northeast Woodlands Cultural Group
  • Languages: Iroquoian and Algonquian
  • Way of Life (Lifestyle): Hunter-gatherers, farmers, fishers, trappers
  • Types of housing, homes or shelters: Wigwams (aka Birchbark houses) and Longhouses

History Timeline of the Illinois Indians
The history and the way of life of Illinois Indians was profoundly affected by newcomers to the area. The indigenous people had occupied the land thousands of years before the first European explorers arrived. The Europeans brought with them new ideas, customs, religions, weapons, transport (the horse and the wheel), livestock (cattle and sheep) and disease which profoundly affected the history of the Native Indians. For a comprehensive History timeline regarding the early settlers and colonists refer to the
Colonial America Time Period. The history of the State and of its Native American Indians is detailed in a simple History Timeline. This Illinois Indian History Timeline provides a list detailing dates of conflicts, wars and battles involving Illinois Indians and their history. We have also detailed major events in US history which impacted the history of the Illinois Indians.

Illinois History Timeline

History Timeline of the Native Indians of Illinois

10,000 BC: Paleo-Indian Era (Stone Age culture) the earliest human inhabitants of America who lived in caves and were Nomadic large-game hunters of  animals including the Great Mammoth.

7500 BC: Eastern Woodland Culture of Fisher Hunters begins. Permanent houses and farming

7000 BC: Archaic Period in which people built basic shelters and made stone weapons and stone tools

1700 BC: Mound Builders culture, a feature of many Woodland tribes

1000: Mississippian Culture established. This was the last of the mound-building cultures of North America in Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States

1673: Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and Louis Joliet (1645-1700) explore Illinois

1680: René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) and Henry de Tonty (1650-1704) build Fort Crèvecoeur

1680: The Iroquois entered the region to attack the Illinois Confederacy tribes. Many were killed in the conflict.

1712: The First French Fox War (1712–1716) began when Fox, Kickapoo, and Mascouten attacked Fort Pontchartrain

1728: The Second Fox War (1728–1733), the Fox were reduced to 500 by French troops and Indian allies. The Fox tribe join the Sauk Tribe after defeat

1754: 1754 - 1763: The French Indian War is won by Great Britain against the French so ending the series of conflicts known as the French and Indian Wars

1763: Treaty of Paris

1764: Pontiac's Rebellion broke out in the Ohio River Valley. The Ottawa Chief Pontiac (1720-1769) to lead a rebellion of a number of tribes against the British

1775: 1775 - 1783 - The American Revolution.

1776: July 4, 1776 - United States Declaration of Independence

1800's: Conflict erupts between settlers and Native Indians including the Illinois, Iroquois, Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Miami, Shawnee, Sauk and Fox tribes throughout the 1800's

1803: Kaskaskia Indians cede nearly all of their lands

1803: The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France for 15 million dollars for the land

1812: 1812 - 1815: The War of 1812 between U.S. and Great Britain, ended in a stalemate but confirmed America's Independence

1812: Potawatomi Indians massacre at Fort Dearborn 

1813: Peoria War was a battle between the U. S. Army, settlers and the Native American tribes of the Potawatomi and the Kickapoo tribes in the Peoria area of Illinois. Their villages were attacked and the tribes left the area. Battles and conflicts resumed in the Winnebago War of 1827 and the Black Hawk War of 1832 - see Black Hawk.

1827: Winnebago War (Fever River expedition) against the Winnebago Indians in Illinois

1829: Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi cede lands

1830: Indian Removal Act

1832: Black Hawk War occurred in Northern Illinois, Michigan, Southwestern Wisconsin including the Battle of Bad Axe

1832: Department of Indian Affairs established

1839: Cherokee Indians pass through Illinois on the "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma

1861: 1861 - 1865: The American Civil War.

1862: U.S. Congress passes Homestead Act opening the Great Plains to settlers

1865: The surrender of Robert E. Lee on April 9 1865 signalled the end of the Confederacy

1887: Dawes General Allotment Act passed by Congress leads to the break up of the large Indian Reservations and the sale of Indian lands to white settlers

1885: The consolidated Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea, and Piankashaw numbered only 149

1969: All Indians declared citizens of U.S.

1979: American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed

History Timeline of the Native Indians of Illinois

State of Illinois History Timeline

History of Illinois Indians - Destruction and Decline
The history of the European invasion brought epidemic diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, influenza, measles and smallpox. The Native Indians of Illinois had not developed immunities against these diseases resulting in huge losses in population. Exploitation including the leverage of taxes, enforced labor and enslavement were part of their history, taking their toll on the Illinois Indians.


  • History of Illinois Indians
  • Interesting Facts and information about the Illinois Culture and History
  • Names of indigenous Illinois tribes of Indians
  • Fast Facts, History Timeline and info
  • Map of Illinois
  • History Timeline of the Illinois Indians

State of Illinois Indians - Additional Pictures and Videos
State of Illinois Indian History. Discover the vast selection of pictures and videos of Native Americans. The pictures show the clothing, weapons and decorations of various Native American tribes that can be used as an educational history resource for kids and children. We hope that this article on the History of Illinois Indians  will assist in your studies or homework and that you will enjoy watching the videos featuring many pictures of the Native Americans. A great historical educational resource for kids on the subject of the History of Illinois Indians..


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