Kaskaskia Tribe

Kaskaskia Indians (perhaps akin to kāskāskahamwa, ‘ he scrapes it off by means of a tool.’ The Foxes have always held the Peoria in low esteem, and in their traditions claim to have destroyed most of them on a rocky island in a river. – Wm. Jones). Once the leading tribe of the Illinois confederacy, and perhaps rightly to be considered as the elder brother of the group. Although the first knowledge of this confederacy obtained by the whites related, in all probability, to the Peoria while they yet resided on the Mississippi, it is probable that the references to them in the Jesuit Relations of 1670 and 1671, from the reports of Father Allouez, apply to the Kaskaskia on upper Illinois river and possibly to some minor tribes or bands connected therewith whose names have not been preserved. Although it has been asserted that earlier visits than that of Marquette in 1673 were made to this people by the whites, there is no satisfactory evidence to justify this conclusion. Their chief village, which had the same name as that of the tribe, is supposed to have been situated about the present site of Utica, LaSalle county, Illinois. Marquette states that at the time of his first visit the village was composed of 74 cabins. He returned again in the spring of 1674 and established the mission of Immaculate Conception among them. It appears that by this time the village had increased to somewhat more than a hundred cabins. Allouez, who followed as the next missionary, states that when he came to the place in 1677 the village contained 351 cabins, and that while the village formerly consisted of but one nation (tribe), at the time of his visit it was composed of 8 tribes or peoples, the additional ones having come up from the neighborhood of the Mississippi. Although the known Peoria village was some distance away, it may be that at this time this tribe and the Moingwena resided at the Kaskaskia village. This is implied in an expression by Gravier, who speaks of the Mugulasha “forming a village with the Baiougoula [Bayogoula] as the Pioüaroüa [Peoria] do with the Kaskaskia.” This, however, would lead to the supposition, if the statement by Allouez be accepted as correct, that there were other bands or tribes collected here at the time of his mission whose names have not survived. Possibly they may have been bands of the Mascoutin or the Miami. Kaskaskia was the village of the Illinois which La Salle reached about the close of Dec., 1679, on his first visit southward from the lakes. He found it unoccupied, however, the inhabitants being on a hunting expedition. The French mission was maintained at this place under Fathers Rasles, Gravier, Binneteau, Pinet, and Marest, until about the close of 1700. At that time the Kaskaskia, influenced by a desire to join the French in Louisiana, resolved to separate from their brethren and migrate to the lower Mississippi. Gravier was much opposed to this movement, and although he arrived on the ground too late to prevent their departure, he was successful in checking the blow which the indignant Peoria and Moingwena were about to inflict on them. It was also through his influence that they were induced to halt at the month of Kaskaskia river, where they made their home, on or near the site of the present town of Kaskaskia, Randolph county, Illinois, until their removal west of the Mississippi under the treaty of Oct. 27, 1812. According to Hutchins, in 1764 the Kaskaskia numbered (500, but he gives the number 1778 as 210 individuals, including 60 warriors. They were then in a village about 3 miles north of the present town of Kaskaskia, greatly degenerated and debauched,

The tribe participated in the treaties of Greenville, Ohio, Aug. 3, 1795, and Ft Wayne, Indiana, June 7, 1803, made by the tribes of the northwest with Anthony Wayne and William H. Harrison. In the treaty of Aug. 13, 1803, at Vincennes, Indiana, it is stated that the tribe constitutes “the remains of and rightfully represents all the tribes of the Illinois Indians, originally called the Kaskaskia, Mitchigamia, Cahokia, and Tamaroi.” By this treaty they were taken under the immediate care and patronage of the United States and promised protection against the other Indians. By treaty made at Castor Hill, Mo., Oct. 27,1832, they ceded to the United States all their lands east of the Mississippi except a single tract reserved to Ellen Ducoigne, the daughter of their late chief, Jean Baptiste Ducoigne. Previous to this, however, the remnants of the various tribes of the Illinois confederacy had consolidated with the Kaskaskia and Peoria. By the treaty of Washington, May 30, 1854, the consolidated tribes ceded to the United States part of the tracts held by them under the treaty of 1832, above mentioned, and under the treaty with the Piankashaw and Wea, Oct. 29, 1832, reserving 160 acres for each member of the tribe and 10, sections as a tribal reserve. By the treaty of Washington, Feb. 23, 1867, land was assigned them in the north east corner of Indian Territory.

The consolidated bands, including also the remnant of the Wea and Piankashaw and now known officially as Peoria, numbered altogether in 1905 only 195, hardly one of whom was of pure Indian blood.

Their totem or crest was an arrow notched at the feather, or two arrows supporting each other like a St Andrew’s cross.

Kaskaskia, Miami,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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