Although our university’s contemporary history began in 1940 with the merger of Armour Institute and Lewis Institute, Illinois Tech has recently embarked on a journey of reflecting further on our shared past. This exploration is one rooted in the desire to acknowledge the origins of our physical space and to show gratitude to the original stewards of the land on which we are situated.
According to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, the name “Chicago” is commonly accepted as a variant of a word that comes from the Algonquin language: “shikaakwa,” meaning “striped skunk” or “onion.” According to early explorers, the lakes and streams around Chicago were full of wild onions, leeks, and ramps (also called wild leeks). The land acknowledgement process, therefore, becomes a piece in a larger framework of deeper understanding of Chicago’s true history and something we felt encouraged to explore as a university.
The Field Museum shares that several original tribes of Indigenous peoples lived and thrived on the land that would come to be called Chicago. Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), Jiwere (Otoe), Nutachi (Missouria), and Baxoje (Iowas); Kiash Matchitiwuk (Menominee); Meshkwahkîha (Meskwaki); Asâkîwaki (Sauk); Myaamiaki (Miami), Waayaahtanwaki (Wea), and Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Inoka (Illini Confederacy), Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), and Odawak (Odawa) all shared land near the abundant resource that is Lake Michigan. Illinois Tech recognizes that the land we now reside on, including our Mies, Rice and Moffett campuses, is the traditional homeland of many Indigenous nations, and remains home to diverse Indigenous peoples today. We would like to thank the original stewards of the land that Illinois Tech now calls home: Myaamiaki (Miami), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Peoria, Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), and Kaskaskia.
Illinois Tech invites you to join us in this journey of exploring our collective past to learn from it and better inform our futures. We call on our community to also recognize and respect Indigenous peoples as the traditional stewards of the land we inhabit and to understand our place within, and impact on, the history of Indigenous nations of Chicago.