JDCF is pleased to announce the acquisition of 160-acres just south of Hanover, Illinois… the Oneota Preserve! Nestled between three existing conservation areas, the acquisition and restoration of this property enables JDCF and its partners to reconnect native wildlife habitats that have become fragmented by human activity and also protects a known Native American cultural site. Funding for this purchase was awarded to JDCF by the Grand Victoria Foundation and the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation with in-kind donations provided by the Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts.
The Oneota Preserve is named in honor of the Oneota culture, a pre-Colombian Native American people that lived on the banks of the Apple River at the present-day Wapello Land & Water Reserve, which is located just across the river from the Oneota Preserve. These preserves tell the story of two Native American cultures – the Woodland Culture and the Mississippian Culture – coming together to form an entirely new society over a thousand years ago. This culture was unique in that it represented a rare phenomenon of two cultures blending together to form a new, unique culture, rather than one culture conquering the weaker culture and the weaker culture fading away into history.
“Until this time, these two cultures had remained distinct with the Late Woodland peoples inhabiting northern Illinois while the Mississippian peoples lived further south in the St. Louis area,” said Dr. Phil Millhouse, Archaeologist with Red Gates Archaeology. “Sometime around the 12th century, the Mississippians migrated north and encountered Late Woodland settlements such as the one that existed at this site. Within several generations the people along the Apple River were no longer just Wood-landers or Mississippians, but they had created their own unique identity as a part of the emerging Oneota cultural tradition.”