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February 27, 2023
Before we begin this issue, we feel a responsibility to acknowledge the Native folks who continue to cultivate their humanity despite the persistent and pervasive forces of oppression, disinvestment and colonialism that have long attempted to erase their existence. Indigenous people have and continue to be essential to the American story.
The first non-Native people settled in Evanston in the 1830s. Shortly after, Ridgeville Township was organized in 1850 with scattered settlements throughout. Northwestern University founders purchased land in the township for their new University in 1851 and platted the village of Evanston in 1854. They named it for John Evans, one of the University’s founders. Evans was later appointed Territorial Governor of Colorado Territory where he was culpable for one of the worst indigenous massacres in American history: the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. Two hundred and thirty Cheyenne and Arapaho people, many of whom were women and children, were slaughtered in the massacre.
Evanston sits on the ancestral homelands of the Council of Three Fires–the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa–as well as the Menominee, Miami, and Ho-Chunk Nations. Before European settlement, Evanston was a site of “trade, travel, gathering, and healing,” according to Northwestern University. It is important that we acknowledge whose lands we reside on and also recognize how Indigenous people have continued to resist and persist through colonization. The Chicago land area is currently home to 40,000 Native folks, who represent over 150 tribes.
As we’ve reflected on Evanston’s role in colonialism and attempted to navigate these often challenging conversations about memorializing racist figure-heads, we ask that you do the same. Reflecting on America’s history and honoring the contributions and traditions of Indigenous people is one step towards fighting their erasure.