This post is another in my ongoing blog series that acknowledges the ancestral lands on which the National Archives’ buildings are situated across the country. This series of acknowledgements is a simple way to offer our recognition and respect to the people who once lived on these lands.
The National Archives at Chicago and the Chicago Federal Records Center in Southwest Chicago, the current location of the Obama Library in the Hoffman Estates, and the future location of the Obama Center at Jackson Park (which will be a privately operated, non-federal organization, but will host a substantial number of items loaned by the National Archives) are all situated on the ancestral lands of several tribal nations: the Council of the Three Fires: the Odawa, Ojibwe Nations and the Potawatomi. This name recognizes that each tribe functions as brethren to serve the alliance as a whole. See Potawatomi Heritage – Encyclopedia: Three Fires Council.
“The Ojibwe were said to be the Keepers of Tradition. The Odawa were known as the Keepers of the Trade. The Potawatomi were known as the Keepers of the Fire. Over time, the Potawatomi migrated from north of Lakes Huron and Superior to the shores of the mshigmé or Great Lake. This location—in what is now Wisconsin, southern Michigan, northern Indiana, and northern Illinois—is where European explorers in the early 17th century first came upon the Potawatomi; they called themselves Neshnabék, meaning the original or true people” From the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi website.
This includes the Illinois Confederacy: the Peoria and Kaskaskia Nations; and the Meskwaki, Myaamia, Thakiwaki, and Wea Nations. The Sauk and Fox called the shores of Lake Michigan home. The Ho-Chunk, Kiikaapoi, Mascouten Nations, and Menominee still call the region of northeast Illinois home.
Chicago remains the home to one of the largest urban Indigenous communities in the United States.
Enter your address in this interactive map of Traditional Native Lands to see who once lived where you are now.
My thanks to Robert Kett, Digital Imaging Technician, Barack Obama Presidential Library, Douglas A. Bicknese, Director of Archival Operations, Glenn Longacre, Archivist, Leo Belleville, Archivist, and Jeremy Farmer, Archives Technician, the National Archives at Chicago, for providing researching information and providing images for this post. Thanks also to Rose Miron, the Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library in Chicago, whose assistance is greatly appreciated.
For additional information:
- Helen Tanner’s Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History.
- The Illinois State Museum’s Indian Villages of the Illinois Country Atlas.
- Many Nations: A Library of Congress Resource Guide For The Study of Indian and Alaska Native Peoples of the United States.
- Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center website
- American Library Association – Potawatomi of Illinois
- History of the Potawatomi from the Milwaukee Public Museum
- Potawatomis from the Encyclopedia of Chicago
- The Potawatomi of Illinois from AccessGenealogy Video – Illinois State Historical Society History Happy Hour on Native Americans of the Illinois Country (Three Fires Section – 40:43 to 52:41)
- Barack Obama Presidential Library website