The Journey Begins
Most journeys along historic Route 66 begin in Chicago. Before white settlement, the Illinois or Illiniwek Nation, who lived in Illinois, consisted of several independent American Indian tribes that spoke a common language, had similar ways of life, and shared a large territory in the central Mississippi River valley, according to the Illinois State Museum. The Illinois called themselves “Inoca.”
Up until the 1800s, a number of Algonquian peoples lived in Illinois but today, Illinois is no longer the official home of any American Indian tribe. However, citizens of many tribal nations call Chicago home because Chicago was one of the five original cities chosen by the U.S. government to relocate American Indians in the 1950s. Today, more than 65,000 American Indians call the Chicago area home.
American Indian Center of Chicago
1630 W. Wilson Ave
Chicago, IL 60630
The influx of American Indians from all over the country to Chicago during relocation gave rise to the need for a common ground—a home away from home—for all the newcomers. In 1953, in response to the thousands of American Indians arriving in Chicago, a group got together and formed the American Indian Center (AIC).
The mission of the AIC-Chicago is the same today as it was in the beginning: “to promote fellowship among Indian people of all tribes living in metropolitan Chicago and to create bonds of understanding and communication between Indians and non-Indians in this city.” AIC-Chicago provides resources to aid in economic development, educational advancement, cultural enrichment, wellness and social services.
American Indian Association of Illinois
Chicago Indian Museum Without Walls
5751 N. Richmond
Chicago, IL 60659
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
3001 Central Street
Evanston, IL 60201
Trickster Art Gallery
190 S Roselle Rd.
Schaumburg IL 60193
Annual American Indian Center Powwow
Busse Woods Forest Preserve
536 N Harlem Ave
River Forest, IL 60305
Indian Relocation Act
The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 was enacted to entice American Indians to move from Indian reservations and assimilate into major U.S. cities by offering vocational skill training. Relocation had been first initiated by the federal government in 1952. Relocation offices were established in seven major cities—including Chicago at the east end of Route 66 and Los Angeles at the west.
In southern Illinois, near Collinsville, just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Route 66 passes through the remains of one of the greatest indigenous cities of the Americas—Cahokia. Cahokia was larger than London in AD 1250.
For more information visit www.cahokiamounds.org