The stories that bring us shame are as important to remember as the stories that bring us pride…
Humans arrive here to hunt big game like mammoths.
The Illiniwek are driven westward by the Potawatomi, who were driven westward by the Iroquois, who were driven westward by European settlement in the East. The hunting grounds of the DuPage River Valley (between the East Dupage River and West DuPage River) are referred to as “Asauganakiing” which means, “the gathering place.” It is unknown if this referred to the annual gathering of peoples in camps along the rivers or if it referred to the bounty of food that could be harvested in the DuPage River Valley.
The disputed Treaty of St. Louis forcibly cedes land away from the Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi (Council of Three Fires). It states that hunting, fishing, and harvesting are maintained rights of the three tribes.
It is worthy of note that the understanding and practice of European land use of the time (individual nuclear family ownership of small parcels with a diet derived almost wholly from various European styles of intensive agriculture with permanent housing) clashed markedly from Native understanding and practice of land use (communal “ownership” which usually extended out to the boundary of a bioregion with a diet comprised of harvested, hunted, as well as intensively grown agricultural foods with mobile housing that was relocated depending upon the season).
European land use transformed many ecosystem services provided by this area, and destroyed some ecosystem services altogether. This ecological transformation, in addition to the growing culture of ethnic cleansing, contributed to growing tensions between the peoples of this place.
Suggested Reading: William Cronon’s Changes in the Land.
The Black Hawk Massacre (often referred to as “The Black Hawk War.”)
Women of Black Hawk’s band of the Sauk tribe approached Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak (Black Hawk) to beg him to lead their people back to lands that were ceded in the Treaty of St. Louis to reclaim their communal gardens. Black Hawk gathered warriors to reclaim the gardens in the disputed boundary that was, “a ten-mile-wide stretch of land, dedicated to a future canal, starting from the lake shore and extending southwest through the southeast section of Downers Grove Township and part of Lisle” (DuPage Roots).
Chief Aptakisic (Half Day) warned early settlers in Downers Grove that they were in danger and led them to the safety of Fort Dearborn, which gained him great favor with local settlers, allowing his band to stay until 1837, yet did not save them from ultimate forced removal.
The Council of the Three Fires was called to the Chicago River by the US government for what they were told would be a council of good will. When they opened the ceremony, commissioners told them that the President heard they wanted to sell their land, to which the Council of Three Fires replied, as captured in writing by the writer Latrobe, “their Great Father in Washington must have seen a bad bird which told him a lie, for, far from wishing to sell their land, they wished to keep it” (Huffington Post).
Lobbied, cajoled, and intimidated for eleven straight days and pumped with whiskey, members of the three tribes (who many Native people today refute did not actually represent the interest of the tribes) signed the Treaty on 9/22/1833. The last remaining Native Americans of DuPage were forced West of the Mississippi at gunpoint and were never alotted the land, payment, or survival supplies like food and shelter that they were promised along the path that later became known as “The Trail of Death.”
DuPage County is formed out of Cook County, named after the DuPage River.
A bounty hunter caught two fugitive slaves and was passing by Avis Blodgett’s homestead. The man on horseback demanded Avis, a slavery abolitionist, bring water for him to drink. It was a law back then, (and technically still is), if someone asked you for water, you had to give it to them. In an act of protest, Avis held a cup of water to the lips of the chained slaves first. The blacksmith shop and Downers Grove home she shared with Israel Blodgett was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Freidrich Conrad Koch, the man who discovered that sunlight converts cholesterol into Vitamin D in the human body, was born to Elmhurst.
Ellen Martin, attorney, becomes the first woman in the State of Illinois to vote by demanding election judges recognize the pre-1870 compact of Lombard that governed the election, which made no mention of gender. The 14 women she organized to attend with her were all allowed to vote. Shortly thereafter the men of the town re-wrote the town charter so women could only vote in school board elections.
April 6th is now Ellen Martin’s Day in Lombard to honor her heroism.
Toulouse-Lautrec paints Loie Fuller, born in Fullersburg-now-Hinsdale, dancing. She is known for revolutionary choreography and for pioneering the use of electric lights with her performances.
When Nathaniel Odom, a brick mason/contractor, first moved to Wheaton, housing was not available for African Americans- so he built his own home. He and William Alexander formed the DuPage chapter of the NAACP in 1953.
With the submittal of a proposal for a Fair Housing Ordinance by Claude Audley, the City Council of Wheaton passed the first Fair Housing Ordinance in the Western Suburbs of Chicago.
Building on the rich history of this place, Sustain DuPage is formed to work toward a vision of a DuPage County that is economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable.
We do this by organizing opportunities to learn and live DuPage sustainability culture.
In 2013, Andrew Van Gorp began an art and community engagement project, in the style of the New Genre Art Movement, called, “Get Your Feet Wet DuPage.” You can read the summary of the project at this link.
All the rest of Sustain DuPage snowballed until we received 501(c)(3) status in 2016.
The late Nobel Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai has a story we cherish:
And what about you?
Will you help us build a good future?