Focus on French/Meskwaki relations and Kaskaskia 100 years before Illinois statehood

This year Illinois celebrates its 200th year of statehood, and Kaskaskia also celebrates its 200th anniversary of being the first capital of Illinois.

The featured speaker at this year's Farnam dinner will explain why Kaskaskia was the first capital by exploring the development of the area by the French around 1718, 100 years before Illinois became a state.

Dr. Carl Ekberg will discuss why Kaskaskia was the largest and most important town for more than a century, and was a key city not only in Illinois but the entire Midwest.

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This presentation will explore the origins of Kaskaskia during its earliest years, and examine how the French village was forged in the crucible of warfare between Fox (Mesqwaki) Indians and French settlers.

Dr. Ekberg is a professor emeritus at Illinois State University and an expert on the French in colonial Illinois.

He is the author of many books, including the award-winning "Colonial Ste. Genevieve," winner of the Illinois State Historical Society’s Award for Superior Achievement, and "French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times," winner of the Kemper and Leila Williams Book Prize.

In addition, Elizabeth Carvey, recently retired curator of the Hauberg Indian Museum at Black Hawk Historic Site, will trace the movement of the Sauk and Meskwaki nations, the last two tribes of indigenous people who lived in the Quad City area, from their original home in Montreal to the Mississippi River Valley.

She will expand on the commercial contact between the two tribes and their fur-trading partners – the French, British, and Americans – and how this influenced their history.

Ms Carvey, who served 36 years at the Hauberg Indian Museum, is the author of "Twelve Moons: A Year with the Sauk and Meskwaki, 1817-1818."

The Farnam dinner will include displays relating to the past and future of the region and the river.

The dinner will be held at Jumer's Casino and Hotel, 777 Jumer Drive, Rock Island. Tickets are $40, $375 for a table of 10. Displays and a cash bar will open at 5 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m. and the program begins at 7:30 p.m.

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