Names of Illinois places reflect American Indian heritage

By Susan Sarkauskas

Of the Daily Herald

What has an American Indian-based name in Illinois?

More like, what doesn’t?

How about the cities and villages of Annawan, Algonquin, Ashkum, Blue Mound, Cahokia, Calumet Park, Channahon, Chebanse, Chicago, Detroit, DuQuoin, Indian Head Park, Kaskaskia, Kankakee, Kewanee, Mackinaw, Makanda, Manhattan, Menomenie, Minooka, Neponset, Niantic, Oconee, Okawville, Shawneetown, Onarga, Oquawka, Owaneco, Paw Paw, Pawnee, Pecatonica, Peoria, Pesotum, Pocahontas, Pontoosuc, Potomac, Raritan, Roanoke, Sauk Village, Shabbona, Tamaroa, Tiskilwa, Tonica, Towanda, Wenona, Waukegan?

How about Aptakisic Road in Lake County, Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles, the Sauganash neighborhood in Chicago? There’s a forest preserve in St. Charles named after Kateri Tekakwitha, the first American Indian to be recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Of course, there are the rivers: The Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Wabash, Kaskaskia, Chicago, West Okaw, Sangamon, Mackinaw, Kishwaukee, Pecatonica, Sinsinawa, Menominee, Waukegan, Calumet. And, of course, Lake Michigan, Nippersink Lake, Pistakee Lake, Saganashkee Slough.

Turning to sports: The Chicago Blackhawks, the University of Ililinois’ Illini, the Piasa Birds of Southwestern Community High School in Piasa.

You get the idea.

Source: Illinois’ state map, municipal websites, historical organizations.

Susan Sarkauskas of the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights can be reached at