Symposium Explores Native History of Illinois

Illinois History Symposium will explore the Native American history of the state as well as the impact of the War of 1812 and the Indian impact on the plains environment.

A three-day symposium April 26 to 28 will explore the Native American roots of the state of Illinois and focus on the impact of the War of 1812 and the state’s history.

This is the 32nd Annual Illinois History Symposium and its theme is “Contested Lands 1763-1840.”

There will be a session with Scott Manning Stevens, the director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, at the Newberry Library in Chicago on Thursday, April 26 at 10:30 a.m. He is a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation and his presentation is titled “What We Lost: The War of 1812 and the Dream of an American Indian Confederacy.”

M.J. Morgan, an adjunct professor at Kansas State University, will serve as guest speaker on Saturday. Her presentation, titled “Prairie Assaulted: Indians and Environment, 1801-1812,” looks at the impact Native Americans had on the environment. Manning is the author of Land of Big Rivers: French and Indian Illinois, 1699-1778.

“We have this great expectation that Native Americans were good to the land, but whenever people go to any place, they destroy it, they change the ecosystems,” William Furry, executive director of the Illinois State Historical Society, told the Peoria Journal Star. “You have the Native Americans, then you have the French coming in and then the British and then you have the Americans and how all those groups were starting to compete for resources.”

According to the PJStar, the event is expected to bring nearly 60 experts on Illinois history together, including archaeologists, Native American elders, historians, land surveyors, authors and battlefield experts.

The 32nd Annual Illinois History Symposium will be held at the Embassy Suites, 100 Conference Center Drive in East Peoria, Illinois. Registration for events on Thursday and Friday is $40. Evens scheduled on April 28 are free. For more information and a full list of scheduled sessions, visit the Illinois State Historical Society website.