Prairie Fire is currently under construction. Images, text and video (links seen across the top of the page), and Narrative — The Indian Experience (at left) are currently available. The other parts of the site will be up shortly.
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In 1673 the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet became the first Europeans to visit the land that came to be called the Illinois Country. In the succeeding century Europeans and Native Americans lived together there in a state of uneasy coexistence. The Illinois Country became a part of the United States' Northwest Territory in 1787, and Native Americans fought a series of bloody wars in an unsuccessful attempt to stem the tide of white settlement. In 1818 Illinois became the twenty-first state, and by 1832 authorities had pushed the last Native Americans beyond its borders.
"Prairie Fire" presents historical texts and images from the period of first white settlement of the Illinois Country to Illinois's statehood in 1818. These materials focus on life in the area originally known as the Old Northwest, which now includes Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as Illinois. The site includes letters, travelogues, and memoirs of white explorers, trappers, and settlers, as well as such Native American materials as are available. Interpretive materials telling the story of the Illinois Country and the Old Northwest in the years before the removal of the Illinois' Native Americans assist users in interpreting and searching the site.