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Chicago Nature Preserve Uncovers Ancient Native American Settlement – Part 1
October 28th, 2013 3:25 PM

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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Posted by Michael Hobbs on October 28th, 2013 3:25 PMPost a Comment

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