The Illiniwek (also known as the Illini, Illinois Confederacy) were a group of six Native American tribes in the upper Mississippi River valley of North America. The tribes were the Kaskaskia, the Cahokia, the Peoria, the Tamaroa, Moingwena, Michigamea, Albiui, Amonokoa, Chepoussa, Chinkoa, "Coiracoentanon," Espeminkia, Maroa, Matchinkoa, Michibousa, Negawichi and Tapouara.
The name "Iliniwek" is an old Ojibwe word borrowed into French as "Illinois." The modern Ojibwe word is ininiweg, from /inin/ meaning "regular, ordinary, plain," /we/ meaning "to speak," joined with a connector vowel /i/, and an animate plural suffix /g/, which when combined means "those who speak in the ordinary way, regular way." In turn, this word was borrowed by Ojibwe from the Illinois language, from an original verb irenweewaki, which means "they speak in the regular way" or "they speak Illinois." However, due to a similar sounding word in old Ojibwe—iliniwak (singular as ilini; modern words ininiwag and inini respectively) meaning "men"—the name has been commonly mistranslated as "men," "proud men," "people," etc. The Illinois Tribes' name for themselves was 'Inoka', as documented in the French Jesuit dictionaries of Illinois. The Illinois themselves spoke various subdialects of the Miami-Illinois language, a member of the Algonquian language family.
In the seventeenth century, the Illiniwek suffered from a combination of European diseases and the expansion of the Iroquois into the eastern Great Lakes:(more near the Lake Michigan) region. The Iroquois had hunted out their traditional lands and sought more productive hunting and trapping areas. They needed these furs to purchase European trade goods, upon which they had grown dependent.
According to a story recorded by historian Francis Parkman in The Conspiracy of Pontiac (1851), a terrible war of retaliation against the Illiniwek resulted from the 1769 murders of the Ottawa war chief Pontiac by a Peoria warrior. According to the tale, the Peorias were practically wiped out as a result at what is now Starved Rock State Park. This legend was debunked by historian Howard Peckham in 1947, although it is still sometimes repeated in non-scholarly sources. There is no evidence that there were any reprisals for Pontiac's murder.
It's Official: Illiniwek Is Retired U of I Trustees Formally Vote to Shelve Mascot; Fighting Illini Names Stays
Mar 14, 2007; Byline: Tara Malone Daily Herald Staff Writer A pumpkin light carved in his likeness from Decatur. A six-pack stamped with his...
Illiniwek's Exit Some Alumni Call the Decision on the 81- Year-Old Tradition Abrupt; Other People Say It's about Time
Feb 17, 2007; Byline: Tara Malone Daily Herald Staff Writer Doug Lattner hoped the day would never arrive. But come Wednesday, the Mount...