Newspaper Clippings for
from Lakeland Newspapers 3 August 1967
Red Man Leaves Antioch Sadly
Antioch's earliest white citizens, the people who inhabited the
area which was to become Antioch, knew the red man well.
Theirs was a living experience passed on by word of mouth to
succeeding generations. Today we must rely on the written word for
recollections of the Indian.
In the land of Che-Ca-Gou, (Chicago) the heritage of the red man
is tied to strange sounding names of places, scattered arrowhead
collections, and traveling authentic Indians who are perhaps
better quick-change artists than dancers. It's almost as though
the forces of history dodged the hunting grounds of the
Mitchegamies and other numerous Algonquin tribes of the midwest,
or at least the writers of history seem to have been much more
inclined to immortalize the tribes of the northeast who got caught
up in the colonial struggles of this country, and the Indians of
the southwest whose demise signaled the end of the "Age of the
Indian." The middle has been excluded, or so the movies and
general histories would have us believe.
The truth is that the midwest, was occupied by the Indians for
hundreds of years before the first settlers arrived, and the
Northern Illinois area was a hub of activity for the red man
before it became one for the white man. The ebb and flow of Indian
tribes across the prairies and woodlands of Illinois was frequent,
often violent, and was the result of pressures created by both
Indian and white man. Before the great white tidal wave washed
them away, the Indians of Illinois farmed, fished, fought, and fed
on the riches of the land. Some were wanderers by nature, moving
across Illinois during their lifelong journey, while others were
dispossessed by warlike neighbors with the result that Illinois
experienced a rich and varied Indian history.
The Indians of Illinois were primarily of the Algonquin nation,
though many different tribes of that larger group took turns as
the dominant group in Illinois. Among these smaller subdivisions
of the Algonquin nation were the Sacs, Foxes, Miamis, Kickapoos
and the Winnebagoes. In terms of the amount of time spent in this
state, the Illinois tribes and the Potawatomis were the most
When the first white men arrived in this state more than 100 years
before the Revolutionary War, the tribes of the Illinois Indians
were well established. A huge settlement on the Illinois River in
what is now LaSalle County had an estimated 460 permanent lodges
and a population of 5,000.
The Illinois were peaceful Indians who lived by farming, fishing,
and hunting. The area they controlled is thought to have included
all of northeastern Illinois.
As early as 1660, however, the fierce and vigorous Iroquois, who
were among the most formidable of all Indians, chased their
enemies the Hurons and Wyandots, across the land of the Illinois.
The warlike Iroquois came all the way from New York in pursuit of
their enemies, and they didn't hesitate to pick a fight with the
Illinois either. In 1680, soon after explorers LaSalle and Tonty
arrived in the area, a party of Iroquois warriors ransacked the
great Illinois River settlement and began the period of decline of
the Illinois Indians which culminated in the massacre at Starved
Rock in 1770.
During the first half of the 18th century the Illinois were still
found throughout central and southern Illinois, but they were
beleaguered by the Iroquois on the east and the Sioux on the
Another tribe from the west, the Miamis, moved into the area
around Chicago and northern Illinois around 1690, where they
remained for about 20 years holding off the Iroquois and other
invading tribes, including the Sioux.
Some of the favorite hunting grounds of the Miamis included the
area of what is now Lake County. The Miamis were more warlike than
their cousins, the Illinois, and they not only secured the area of
northern Illinois, but also moved eastward into Indiana and Ohio.
They left the western shore of Lake Michigan in 1720.
The great Ottawa Chief Pontiac was assassinated in 1769 by a
member of the Kaskaskian tribe, which was a smaller subdivision of
the Illinois. The Ottawas and the Potawatomis, who revered
Pontiac, took their revenge on the Illinois Indians at Starved
Rock, where a bloody massacre exterminated all but 11 of the
Illinois. It is from the year 1770 that the occupation and control
of the Illinois territory by the Potawatomis is usually dated. The
proud and haughty Potawatomis had been entrenched in the Green Bay
area in the latter 1600's, but like others, they roamed far and
wide. In 1763 the Potawatomis were large and strong enough to send
a 450 man delegation to the Algonquin council in Niagara Falls.
Potawatomis of the Illinois territory adopted a somewhat different
way of life than their parent tribes from Michigan and Indiana.
The Potawatomis of this area became known as the "prairie band",
as opposed to the woodland Indians. They despised the tilling of
the soil and wouldn't even permit their women to farm. Instead the
Potawatomis led a somewhat nomadic existence, moving from hunting
ground to hunting ground and setting up tepee villages.
The tepees had a hole at the top for smoke to escape. The sides
and floor were made of rushes woven into mats, and beds were of
deer skin and buffalo hides. They spurned the white man's religion
and had been described earlier by the missionary Jacques Marquette
as idolatrous and polygamous, but hospitable.
In the first two decades of the 19th century, the Potawatomis must
have been able to lead a reasonably free life, as far as the
encroachments of the white man were concerned. They fought on the
side of the British during the War of 1812, though they were
allied to the American settlers during the Blackhawk War of
The Potawatomis participated in the treaty of 1821 at Chicago
which ceded 500,000 acres of territory in Michigan to the white
In 1833 the final treaty with the Indians who inhabited the state
of Illinois was consummated in Chicago, as 5,000 Indians encamped
around the already famous trading outpost, mingling with traders,
creditors, curiosity seekers, and negotiators. After several
weeks, during which the lot of the Indians grew worse from the
effects of drinking and inactivity, the treaty was finally agreed
upon, and the Indians had to forfeit a great deal of the money
involved to creditors and negotiators. They agreed to leave the
lands of Illinois immediately and were given three years to
evacuate their lands in southern Wisconsin.
This was virtually the end of the line for the Indians of our
state, but small groups continued to hunt and live in the areas in
the extreme northern part of the state.
In her "Journal," Mary Elizabeth Story Howard reveals that her
family encountered Indians when they first lived in the Antioch
area, which was in the 1840's. The Indians would kill a deer, skin
it, and leave the hind quarters in front of the cabin for the
settlers to eat. They were furtive, but friendly, as it must have
been clear to them, though they couldn't accept it, that they
somehow didn't belong there anymore. And they didn't, because for
some reason the country wasn't big enough in those days for both
red man and white man to live side by side.