Illinoisans can observe Native American Heritage Month during November, but they can learn about the contributions and accomplishments of native Americans in our state all year-round.

Hundreds of years ago, Illinois was home to the Illiniwek tribe, a migratory group composed of 12 smaller tribes, including Cahokia, Peoria and Kaskaskia. Their biggest villages included the Grand Village of Kaskaskia, Pimiteoui and Michigamea, according to the Illinois Historic Preservation Society. Other tribes included the Sauk, Mesquakie, Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Winnebago.

As European settlers made their way across the continent, native Americans were relocated to Kansas, and then Oklahoma. Descendants of the Illiniwek are known today as the Peoria Indian Tribe of Oklahoma. Today, we can point to many reminders of native American influence in the names of municipalities, counties, schools, streets and more.

Historic locations for native American history

You can learn about the history of native Americans in Illinois through several National Historic Landmarks or the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Division:

  • Albany Mounds (Albany, northwest Illinois archaeological site)
  • Apple River Fort (Elizabeth, northwest Illinois)
  • Black Hawk Historic Site (Rock Island, northwest Illinois)
  • Buel House (Golconda, southern Illinois)
  • Cahokia Mounds (Collinsville, southwest Illinois)
  • Fort de Chartres (Prairie du Rocher, southwest Illinois)
  • Grand Village of Illinois (North Utica, north central Illinois)
  • Kincaid Mounds (Unionville, southern Illinois)
  • Pierre Menard Home (Ellis Grove, southwest Illinois)

History of Native American Heritage Month

Although some states have honored Native Americans with a special day for more than 100 years, the first official national recognition came in November 1990, when President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating National American Indian Heritage Month.

Since 1994, similar proclamations have been issued using more inclusive names, including National American Indian Month and Alaska Native Heritage Month and Native American Heritage Month. In 2008, President Barack Obama signed legislation making National Native American Heritage Day as the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, the holiday will be celebrated on Nov. 25.


In Washington, D.C., numerous prominent institutions are paying tribute during the month of November, including: the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. See their calendar.

PBS offers a variety of documentaries about the cultures, accomplishments and contributions of Native Americans and Alaska Natives through or the PBS video app. provides a list of 20 contemporary books by Native American authors at