The Illinois and the Edge Effect: People and Animals in the Tallgrass Prairie Borderlands

Hide Robe

Hide robe, Musée du Quai Branly (Paris)

Illustration of Illinois man with calumet

Illustration of Illinois man with calumet, Gilcrease Museum (University of Tulsa)

Principal Investigator: Robert Michael Morrissey, Assistant Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Grant Program: Fellowships for University Teachers

Year: 2016

"This is a new history of the middle of the North American continent from the standpoint of the Native American people who controlled it from well before contact through the early 19th century.  Often overlooked, the Illinois rose to power by exploiting unique social and ecological opportunities in-between the woodlands of the east and the plains of the west.  Becoming North America’s only “bison Algonquians,” they built power based on bison hunting and the slave trade, and even briefly built the largest population center on the continent in the 1680s.  This book will be the first narrative ethnohistory and environmental history of the Illinois ever published.  Moreover, it will use the lens of human-animal studies, as well as archaeology, linguistics, and material culture, to tell early American history in a new way.  In time for the celebration of Illinois’ state bicentennial in 2018, this book will bring to light the long-ignored history of Native power in the heart of America."

Robert Morrissey 

An Interview with NEH Grant-Recipient Robert Michael Morrissey

The Past Five Years

The Illinois and the Edge Effect: People and Animals in the Tallgrass Prairie Borderlands