Dear Illinois Tech Community Members,
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is time to pause and reflect on the many gifts that we have been afforded. I’m truly grateful for the Illinois Tech family—students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, parents, well-wishers, community leaders, and business partners—who have helped us get to where we are today, and help us build for tomorrow.
Illinois Tech recognizes and gives gratitude to the Native American peoples who have lived on this land and served as its stewards since time immemorial. The Illinois Tech campuses and Chicago area where we reside is the ancestral land of dozens of Indigenous nations, and it remains home to many Native people today. Historically, interactions with Europeans and Native Americans brought accelerated and often devastating changes to Native cultures, and it’s crucial to be mindful of that history and how it affects our present.
During National Native American Heritage Month, I hope you take this time to learn more about Native American lives, stories, and contributions and to use that knowledge to create a better future for our university and for our city. If you would like to connect with diverse Native stories and the individuals who share them, I encourage you to visit the Field Museum’s Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories permanent exhibition created with the guidance of an advisory council of 11 Native American scholars and museum professionals, and in partnership with 130 collaborators representing more than 105 Tribes.
I would like to share with you the university’s Land Acknowledgement statement, which has been developed by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to honor the contributions of Indigenous peoples past and present.
We ask that everyone give thanks to the original inhabitants of this land and strive to understand our place in Chicago and its history.Sincerely,
Raj Echambadi, President
Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois Institute of Technology Land Acknowledgement
Although our university’s contemporary history began in 1940 with the merger of Armour Institute and Lewis Institute, Illinois Tech has recently embarked on a journey of reflecting further on our shared past. This exploration is one rooted in the desire to acknowledge the origins of our physical space and to show gratitude to the original stewards of the land on which we are situated.
According to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, the name “Chicago” is commonly accepted as a variant of a word that comes from the Algonquin language: “shikaakwa,” meaning “striped skunk” or “onion.” According to early explorers, the lakes and streams around Chicago were full of wild onions, leeks, and ramps (also called wild leeks). The land acknowledgement process, therefore, becomes a piece in a larger framework of deeper understanding of Chicago’s true history and something we felt encouraged to explore as a university.
The Field Museum shares that several original tribes of Indigenous peoples lived and thrived on the land that would come to be called Chicago. Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), Jiwere (Otoe), Nutachi (Missouria), and Baxoje (Iowas); Kiash Matchitiwuk (Menominee); Meshkwahkîha (Meskwaki); Asâkîwaki (Sauk); Myaamiaki (Miami), Waayaahtanwaki (Wea), and Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Inoka (Illini Confederacy), Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), and Odawak (Odawa) all shared land near the abundant resource that is Lake Michigan. Illinois Tech recognizes that the land we now reside on, including our Mies, Rice and Moffett campuses, is the traditional homeland of many Indigenous nations, and remains home to diverse Indigenous peoples today. We would like to thank the original stewards of the land that Illinois Tech now calls home: Myaamiaki (Miami), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Peoria, Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), and Kaskaskia.
Illinois Tech invites you to join us in this journey of exploring our collective past to learn from it and better inform our futures. We call on our community to also recognize and respect Indigenous peoples as the traditional stewards of the land we inhabit and to understand our place within, and impact on, the history of Indigenous nations of Chicago.