This blog post was written for tumblr user howoddnichole, who requested some information about Kaskaskia history. Most of the information comes from Richard White’s The Middle Ground, Wayne C. Temple’s Indian Villages of the Illinois Country, and the Peoria Tribal webpage.
The Kaskaskia people were one of the primary tribes of the Inoka (Illinois) Confederacy of the 1600s and onwards. They were one of the Algonquian peoples attacked by the Haudenosaunee in the 1600s Beaver Wars, forcing them to take refuge in Wisconsin and Illinois. In the mid-1600s, refugees from a variety of tribes lived in multitribal villages, and it was probably around then that people of similar languages formed the Inoka Confederacy, with large numbers residing at a place called Starved Rock. The conditions people lived in were hard, as corn often failed and hunters competed intensely for game.
In 1680, the Haudenosaunee started another wave of attacks, destroying the Kaskaskia Great Village. This sparked an initial Algonquian-French alliance, and the French began to maintain posts at Starved Rock, where a large number of Kaskaskia resided. Along with them came large numbers of missionaries. Among the people of the Inoka Confederacy, young women in particular were attracted to Christianity and the cult of the Virgin Mary. In some ways, it had a similar function to a women’s religious society by providing them with a source of validation for power. Other women married French coureurs de bois, creating formal trade relationships through marriage, which ultimately led to the French essentially freaking out about miscegenation and removing all their western posts.
In 1694, a Frenchman named Michel Accault tried to get married to a devout Christian Kaskaskia woman who was also the daughter of a chief, Aramepinchieue. Her father wanted the marriage to happen to strengthen the trade ties, but Aramepinchieue refused, drawing on both Kaskaskia ideas of sexual sovereignty and Catholic notions of piety. Her father ejected her from his house and tried to stop the church services; she and fifty women persisted, defying the male authorities. Eventually they compromised, and the two were married and Aramepinchieue’s father agreed to let the priests in, resulting in the Kaskaskias becoming almost universally Catholic, at least in name, by 1711.
The Inoka confederacy was also engaged in long-term war with the Meskwaki nation, and they allied with the French to nearly destroy the Meskwaki in the 1730s. It may have been due to these wars and disease that during the 1700s the population of the Inoka declined significantly. The Kaskaskia resettled from Starved Rock to the place where the Kaskaskia River meets the Mississippi, where they continued to intermarry with Frenchmen. Their relationship with the movement led by Pontiac in the 1760s was touchy, and ended with Pontiac being killed by some Peoria for an attack he made on an Inoka chief.
By the time of the American Revolution, the Kaskaskia had mostly relocated to the Mississippi, but a group of them, along with other Indians, allied with the British and moved into the Ohio country to attack the Americans to prevent their entrance into the area. By the late 1700s, the Inoka confederacy’s population was devastated, and the United States negotiated a treaty with them at Vincennes in 1803 in which the Kaskaskia ceded their territory in Illinois Country and received two reservations.
In 1832, the remaining Kaskaskia signed a treaty leaving Illinois and Missouri to settle with Peoria, Piankeshaw, and Wea in Kansas, with whom they officially formed the Confederated Peoria tribe in 1854. After the Civil War, most signed the Omnibus Treaty to relocate to Indian Territory, while some remained and became US citizens. The Dawes Act of 1898 divided the Peoria’s land into allotments and dissolved the traditional government; this was reinstated with the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1939. In 1959, the Peoria tribe was terminated, and achieved federal recognition once again in 1978.
thank you thank you thank you!
Joseph Gagné said:
have you read this?
Kaskaskia Social Network: Kinship and Assimilation in the French-Illinois Borderlands,
Author(s): Robert Michael Morrissey
Source: The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 1 (January 2013), pp. 103-146
Published by: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5309/willmaryquar.70.1.0103 .
gordon schmitt said:
The Meswaki war (The Fox Wars) of 1700’s was, among other reasons, control of distribution of trade goods and furs. It was a terrible internecine war of total genocide of the Illini vs Meswaki nations. Men, women and children were not spared. The Meswakis jammed up flow of fur and trade goods on the Wisconsin Fox River at Lac Butte des Morts (“Hill of the Dead’) by Oshkosh, Wi., where the Meswaki demanded a toll of all material passing either up or down the river. This “intertearfance of commerce” added much to the chagrin of the French, that they vowed to wipe the Meswaki from the face of the earth. They enlisted the aid of other native tribes, also affected by the disruption of trade goods. The war was bloody and intense with cruel atrocities committed by all sides, as is the usual case in wars of this type. Greed, power, racism, long simmering hates were the oxygen to the fire of this war.
Also, the Kaskaskia Great (Grand) Village was visited by father Marquette and Joliet.
Later Robert LaSalle and Henri de Tonti establish a fort atop a sandstone tower-butte across the Illinois River from the village. During this time a large wide-ranging war party came to the area from on the Illinois prairie to the south of the fort. deTonti went out to the prairie to confront the and buy time for the Kaskaskias to de camp and flee the Iroquois (Hudenosaunee) war party. Again, the dispute was fur trade. The Iroquois were attempting to establish a hegemony over the northern area of the upper mid-west.
At de Tonti’s approach, a group of warriors rush out to attack him. In an earlier European war he lost a hand in a battle; which he had it replaced by a strap on iron protheses. de Tontie took off this hand that upon which he had gloved, to hide its iron nature. He hurled the hand at the warriors, which stopped in astonishment at such a sight. This gave de Tonti time to return to the protection of the fort to escape the warrior’s rath. The Iroquois decide to stop and hold a long council on what their next moves were to be.
The decision was to attack the village. But the previous delay gave the Kaskaskias to escape down the river from the Iroquois. They were so angry and frustrated by the escaped Kaskaskians the they ripped open graves and scattered bones and corps and grave goods all over the village site to give warning to the Kaskasians of their frustration fury to the villagers so the could not reuse the site.
Wow! Just wow. Thank you for this information. I know I live on Indian land and was extremely impressed when I found this.