Historic Chicago Cemetery, Rosehill Cemetery, on
the north side of the city, sold a portion of their land back in 2011 so it
could be transformed into a 20 acre city project called the West
Ridge Nature Preserve. The
$7.7 million plot had a few surprises in store.
Ancient Native American artifacts were uncovered on the
land that was surveyed. It’s no secret
that Chicago has been the home of several Native American Tribes, and the most
well known were the Miami-Illini tribe. In fact the name “Chicago,” originated
from the Miami word “Shikaakwa,” which means “wild onion or wild
garlic,” as we commonly refer to now as the modern day “ramp.” Later, the name “Shikaakwa” evolved to
“Checagou” by early French settlers and eventually became, Chicago.
Archeologist, Phil Millhouse of the Illinois
Archeological Survey, said that in their initial “shovel tests,” items such as
knives, arrow heads, cooking items and ceramics were found.
He said, “It turned out there was a very large
prehistoric village on that ridge of sand and gravel that runs off the lake,”
implying that the large wetland had been home to a civilization long before the
area had been discovered by Europeans.
Barry Kafka, a resident of the Bowmanville neighborhood
of 20 years said, “I was really fascinated to learn that our entire
neighborhood had been part of a native habitation.” He also voiced his
frustration that it wasn’t a well known fact.
He went on to tell about the neighborhood history saying
that artifacts were continuously found in the area throughout the 1900’s but
were not properly recorded, and therefore generations of history were lost.
According to records the last use of the land was for the
Budlong Pickle Farm. As Rosehill had
this area set aside graves, the land had been dormant since 1859.
Unfortunately, the artifacts cannot be tied to any one
tribe at this point and Brad Koldehoff, Chief Archeologist with the Illinois
Department of Transportation comment that the Chicago Park District will be
taking precautionary measures to make sure its pathways do not disrupt the land
and assured the press that the survey had already been reviewed by the state
for compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.
To be continued…
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