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Illinois place names reflect American Indian heritage

South suburban Sauk Village is one of many cities and villages in Illinois with American Indian-based names. | Sun-Times file photo

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, DuBois, DuQuoin, Indian Head Park, Kaskaskia, Kankakee, Kewanee, Lake Ka-Ho, Loami, Mackinaw, Mahomet, Makanda, Manhattan, Menomenie, Minooka, Moweaqua, Muncie, Neponset, Niantic, Oconee, Okawville, Shawneetown, Onarga, Oquawka, Owaneco, Paw Paw, Pawnee, Pecatonica, Peoria, Pesotum, Pocahontas, Pontoosuc, Potomac, Raritan, Roanoke, Sauget, Sauk Village, Seneca, Shabbona, Tamaroa, Tiskilwa, Toledo, Tolono, Tonica, Towanda, Wenorah, Waukegan, Wyanet?

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 (though some say the name is based on a World War I military unit), the University of Illinois’ Illini, the Piasa Birds of Southwestern Community High School in Piasa.

You get the idea.

Susan Sarkauskas of the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights can be reached at The Illinois Bicentennial series is brought to you by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and Illinois Press Association. More than 20 newspapers are creating stories about the state’s history, places and key moments in advance of the Bicentennial on Dec. 3, 2018.