The settlers who arrived in the 1830s found friendly natives of the Potawatomi tribe. Their Chief Shabbona often visited Gougar Crossing, preferring to sleep on the floor while his wife slept in the bed. At Gougar Crossing, an Indian burial site was marked by the traditional pole with a white feather attached. After the Black Hawk War in 1832, the Indians from the area were forced to move to the west of the Mississippi River (the Indians pronounced "Mississippi" as "Sinnissippi," meaning "rocky waters").
The discovery of three Indian skeletons during an archaeological dig in New Lenox, Illinois, in 1993 gave birth to the Midwest SOARRING (Save Our Ancestors' Remains and Resources Indigenous Network Group) Foundation.
|Joseph Standing Bear Schranz|
For a year after the bodies were found, Midwest SOARRING conducted an honor guard at the site and ensured the bodies were repatriated by the Miami tribe in Oklahoma. Archaeologists believed there may have been more bodies, but Schranz considered this a sacred site and wanted the bodies left undisturbed so they could continue their journey.
|The Sanctuary Golf Course archaeological dig sites.|
|A visual aid: Longhouse|
The pits and hearths contained hundreds of European traded goods, such as pieces of a brass kettle, brass ornaments, an iron tomahawk, and glass beads, as well as pieces of stone, ceramic, and bone artifacts, tools, plant, and animal remains.
The structures have been covered up and reburied, while the artifacts are stored at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
The Native American Cultural Center is at 133 West 13th Street and State Street, downtown Lockport, Illinois. It is located in the old historic train station. Schranz said he would like to make room at the cultural center to display these artifacts if the state museum would allow that. "It all belongs to the people of Will County," he said.
|The Lockport Station was originally built in 1863 by the Chicago and Alton Railroad. The tracks run parallel to the Illinois and Michigan Canal and shares the right-of-way with Amtrak's Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains. Today, Metra goes by the station but doesn't stop here.|
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.