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Illinois is now home to a federally-recognized tribal nation

Shabbona Lake State Parl
Yinan Chen, Wikipedia
Shabbona Lake State Park

Illinois is, once again, home to a federally recognized tribal nation.

175 years ago, Potawatomi Chief Shab-eh-nay left his home in DeKalb County to visit family in Kansas.

He returned home to find the U.S. government had illegally sold 1,280 acres of his northern Illinois land.

The tribe says the U.S. Department of the Interior has now placed portions of that land into a trust for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

Prairie Band Chairman Joseph Rupnick, who is Shab-eh-nay’s fourth-generation great-grandson, said in the announcement that it was a step towards righting a historical wrong and continuing their place as an original part of DeKalb County.

Democratic Representative Lauren Underwood’s 14th Congressional District includes the area now in trust. According to the statement, she applauded the move and said she’s proud to represent the first federally recognized reservation in Illinois.

Several bills have been introduced in Congress over the past few years to compensate the tribe for the stolen land.

At the state level, Illinois state representative Mark Walker recently filed a bill seeking to transfer ownership of the 1,500-acre Shabbona Lake State Park to the Prairie Band Potawatomi.

Along with the Potawatomi, Illinois is the ancestral home of several native tribes, including the Ojibwe and Odawa.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.