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The Kaskaskia are an American Indian tribe that is no longer extant. They were once a part of the Illinois, a group of approximately twelve Algonquian-speaking tribes who shared the same culture. The Kaskaskia moved from Kansas to Indian Territory (present Oklahoma) as members of the Confederated Peoria in 1867. Today their descendants are counted among the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.

The principal Kaskaskia village was located at Starved Rock on the Illinois River near present North Utica in LaSalle County, Illinois. Father Jacques Marquette visited the settlement in 1673 and established a mission there in 1675. The village grew as French activity attracted other tribes to the area. The town contained 351 Indian dwellings in 1677.

"The Grand Kaskaskia Village" was abandoned in 1680, and the Kaskaskia soon resettled near the site of present Peoria, Illinois. About 1703 the Kaskaskia joined the Michigamea at the mouth of the Kaskaskia River, where they remained until 1832. There, near French settlements, their population fell from an estimated 600 in 1764 to 210 in 1778. Their decline was attributed to warfare, disease, and the introduction of liquor.

Beginning in 1795 the Kaskaskia were involved in fifteen treaties with the United States. In 1803 the federal government recognized the Kaskaskia as the representative of the Michigamea, Cahokia, and Tamaroa, remnant Illinois tribes with whom they had combined. In that year the Kaskaskia surrendered all but about sixteen hundred acres of their land in present Illinois. In 1832 they united with the Peoria and exchanged their remaining lands for a reservation in present Kansas. In 1854 the Kaskaskia and Peoria joined with the Wea and Piankashaw in forming the Confederated Peoria tribe, which was assigned a new home in northeast Indian Territory (present Ottawa County, Oklahoma) in 1867. That reservation was allotted to 153 Peoria, including an indeterminate number of Kaskaskia, beginning in 1889.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Joseph Bauxar, "History of the Illinois Area," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978). Charles Callender, "Illinois," in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15, Northeast, ed. Bruce G. Trigger (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978). Grant Foreman, The Last Trek of the Indians: An Account of the Removal of the Indians from North of the Ohio River (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946). Frederick W. Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Vol. 1 (1907; reprint, New York: Pageant Books, 1960). Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).

Jon D. May

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