MuseumLink Project Info
  Teacher Orientation Pre-Contact
Illinois Country
The Illinois
Image Credits
Teacher Orientation
      The MuseumLink Historic or post-European contact Native American module focuses on the Illinois Indians and their environment, as it is taught by Illinois teachers in grades 4-12.

Objectives of the Module

Older students and teachers will:

Understand more about the history of Illinois and its Native American population from A.D. 1640-2000

Increase their knowledge of the lifeways of Native American peoples.

Reading Level

Most of the text is written at about eleventh grade level. Testing has shown, however, that many fifth graders can read much of the module on their own by the end of the school year, and most sixth through eighth graders can handle the reading.

Some concepts are difficult for younger students and need more explanation or simplification by the teacher. One way elementary teachers could introduce their students to the module would be to look at the hands-on activities first, see which topics are appropriate for their students, then introduce the sections on which the activities are based. These activities may also be part of a Native American Week presentation, as may be the Web site itself.

Secondary students will be able to use the module independently, either for supplementary reading or for research projects.

Resources for Teachers

  • The module and all activities address specific Illinois State Board of Education Standards and Goals. The goals are listed for the module as a whole and for each activity. The goals are listed in each lesson plan, after the Assessment section.
  • The glossary is accessible to print as a whole for vocabulary practice, and in the text, underlined words, when clicked on with the mouse, open a popup window with the definition.
  • The bibliography is a list of the sources the author used to write the text. Many of these sources may be obtained through inter-library loans. They are all scholarly texts.
  • Footnotes for individual references are available on each Web page by clicking on the open book icon. These are of most interest to those with further research in mind. Teachers may want to point them out to students as examples of formatting and references for academic writing.
  • Picture Credits is a list of background information and credits for all the images used in this module.
  • Web and Print Resources provide more information for teachers and older students. Other Illinois-related Web links and print resources for children are very scarce. The Web site contains a vast array of topics and links, but again, few on Illinois-related topics.
  • Activities include hands-on activities for younger students and topics of interest to teens.


Use the expanding menu in the upper left-hand corner of your screen to proceed through the module, or click on any of the links in the menu. There are no NEXT or BACK buttons on the Web pages, so learning to navigate the menu is important for your students. If links to more detailed information take you out of the Historic Native American or MuseumLink, use the back button of your browser to return to your original page.

Underlined words are glossary entries. Click on them with your mouse, and a popup window displays the definition. The entire glossary may be printed out for classroom use.


A description of the Illinois country - land, climate, water, plants, and animals begins the module to introduce the environment in which Illinois Indians lived.

The Illinois people are the focus of this module. Text, artifacts, archaeological information, and historical records are used to describe various aspects of their lives. Topics and examples of content are:

identification (who are the Illinois - by appearance, language, and territory),
economy (food, trade, labor),
technology (tools, weapons, utensils, houses),
society (family, social status, neighbors, warfare),
beliefs (religion, folklore, calumet, health, death),
art (deer hide paintings),
music (flute)

The history section contains a timeline and a narrative of events from the 1650s to today, as French explorers and fur traders and English and other settlers came into contact with the Illinois.

The paintings and drawings that illustrate the text are part of the historical record. They may be read for details that tell us about the clothing, body adornment, tools, weapons, and other aspects of Native American life at the time they were painted. Maps made by explorers are part of the historical record, too.

Artifacts from the collection are also an historical record of the life of Native Illinoisans. Most of the post-European contact artifacts are not on display at the current museum in Springfield. The artifacts at the Dickson Mounds Museum are from a much earlier time period.

Quotations from early explorers, missionaries, and traders are examples of eyewitness accounts and of attitudes about Native Americans and the Illinois country. They show a connection across time with people in the past. Students could read them on their own, teachers could print them out and copy them, or make an overhead to discuss them in class.

Archaeology describes five sites in Illinois and the important information that has been obtained from each. There is also a page on the ancestors of the Illinois.

How Do You Know? Explains how historical records and archaeological sites give Museum researchers valuable information about peoples of the past.

Behind the ScenesArtNative AmericanForestPrairieSite Index Home
Contact Us

© 2000 Illinois State Museum