Illinois Tribes

No Federally Recognized Tribes

Illini

Illinois got its name from a confederation of tribes known as the Illini. They originally inhabited areas in the present day State of Illinois, on both sides of the Mississippi and south to the Arkansas River. The name Illinois is the French version of the name that these people gave to themselves, Illiniwek, which means ‘men’ or ‘people.’

At the time of the arrival of the white man around 1600 there were as many as sixty Illini villages. The numbers of Illini reported by the French in the mid 1650’s varied considerably from 2,000 to as many as 20,000 due to constant migrating by many bands.  Scholars estimate about 12,000.

The tribe population declined due to the Beaver Wars and epidemics introduced by the Europeans.  By 1768 there were only about 1,800 Illini.  When this band was attacked by tribal enemies that number was further reduced to 600. By 1854, there were just 84 left. At this time they united with the Wea and Piankashaw and became the United Peoria Tribe.

Today the remant of the Ilini can be found among the Peoria Nation of about 2,000 people living on their Oklahoma reservation.<