Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
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  • 1 A Healing Place

    Sunset at Midewin

    You are now standing in Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. It is the first National Tallgrass Prairie in the United States. Midewin is the largest contiguous piece of land in northeastern Illinois to be restored to prairie. Midewin is approximately 4 miles long and 8 miles wide, 32 square miles.

    Before European settlement, northeastern Illinois was last occupied by the Potawatomi Indians. Various groups of Native Americans have inhabited northeastern Illinois for 10,000 years, … 4,000 years before the prairie arrived.  Because of the long occupation of the Potawatomi nation on the landscape, it was thought appropriate, with the approval of Potawatomie tribe, to give the first National Tallgrass Prairie a Potawatomi name. 

    Midewin is the name of the Grand Medicine Society of the Anishinaabe, a group of native American tribes that inhabited the Great Lakes region of North America, and includes the Potawatomi people who were historic residents of this part of Illinois. As a society of healers and leaders, the Midewin keep the greater Anishinaabe society in balance. These indigenous values are reflected in the current use of the name and represent healing the natural world and providing balance to our urban, technology-filled lives.    


    It took an act of congress to make Midewin a reality. In February of 1996 the Illinois Land Conservation Act was signed. 19,161 acres of surplus federal lands that were once the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant were now part of the United States Forest Service.

    The Illinois Land Conservation Act took a tired expanse of land with the goal of restoring it to magnificent prairie.. The land that served a nation for sixty years as an arsenal and had fed a country for 80 years before that would be brought back to its natural state, prairie. Restoring Midewin prairie is no easy task and will be ongoing.

    Midewin staff, partners and volunteers strive to fulfill the primary purposes of Midewin as stated in the Illinois Land Conservation Act:

    · to conserve & enhance native wildlife and plants

    · to conduct education and research

    · the continuation of agricultural uses where appropriate   

    · to be used for recreation

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