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Family Event | Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Monday, October 10

On October 8, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. issued a presidential proclamation stating that “(o)n Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treat obligations to Tribal Nations.”

For thousands of years, the place now known as Chicago was a thriving center of Indigenous life. Potawatomi people lived on and took care of the land until they were forced out by non-Native settlers. The Ojibwe, Odawa, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Miami, Mascouten, Sac and Fox, Kickapoo, Ho-Chunk, Menomonee, and tribes whose names have been lost as a result of genocide also lived, gathered, and traded in this region. In 1833, the US government imposed the Treaty of Chicago, which forced most Potawatomi to leave the area.

Chicago today owes much to the Indigenous peoples of this land. In fact, the city’s name comes from “Checagou,” likely derived by French traders from the word “Zhegagoynak.” In Potawatomi, “zhegagosh” means “wild onion” and “nak” means “the place of.”

During World War II, many Native people began migrating to Chicago, and Indigenous peoples continue to play a vital role in the city. In fact, Chicago has the third largest urban Native American population in the US following generations of forced removal, relocation, and assimilation practices common throughout the nation.

Included with general admission, which is FREE for Illinois residents on this day. RSVP appreciated but not required.



1:30–2:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion
CHM director of collections Julie Wroblewski and project archivist Lydia Wood discuss the work that CHM has done with our collecting practices of Indigenous objects. 1st floor, Guild Room (next to North & Clark Café).

3:00–4:00 p.m. – Drop-in Q&A
Chicago sits on the land of the Potawatomi people, but who are the Potawatomi? What did their lives look like before the city was established and what do their lives look like today? Bring your questions for Indigenous scholar Starla Thompson, who will share stories from her lived experience and the history about this Chicago community. 1st floor, Guild Room (next to North & Clark Café). Light refreshments available. All ages welcome.

4:00–5:00 p.m. – Virtual Author Talk
Dr. John Low, professor at Ohio State University, speaks about his book Imprints: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the City of Chicago (2016) and his work with CHM as a board member and consultant. Join this Zoom session. Meeting ID: 871 7434 8339 Passcode: 027983

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Three Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) from Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota, standing at the foot of a stairwell in Chicago, 1907. DN-0004923
Native Americans gather at the Civic Center to demonstrate support for American Indian Movement takeover of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 50 W. Washington St., Chicago, March 21, 1973. ST-70005505-0001
Members of the Chicago-area Native American community gather for an event, Chicago, Sept. 27, 1992. ST-20002194-0001
Residents of Native American descent hold a vigil in protest of Columbus Day festivities at Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt Ave., Chicago, Oct. 10, 1992. ST-10002267-0043
Indigenous scholar Starla Thompson in downtown Chicago.
Dr. John Low, Professor of American Indian Studies at Ohio State University and citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

The Details



10 th

1:30–4:00 p.m.

Event Location

Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614

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