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The Illinois's name for themselves, as attested in all three of the French missionary-period dictionaries of Illinois, was Inoka, of unknown meaning and unrelated to the other terms.

American Indians of successive cultures lived along the waterways of the Illinois area for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.

John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois's rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden.

The Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper.

With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base and is a major transportation hub.

The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway on the Illinois River.

The French borrowed these forms, changing the /we/ ending to spell it as -ois, a transliteration for its pronunciation in French of that time.

The current spelling form, Illinois, began to appear in the early 1670s, when French colonists had settled in the western area.

French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the Illinois River in 1673.

Marquette soon after founded a mission at the Grand Village of the Illinois in Illinois Country.

These artifacts indicate that Cahokia was truly an urban center, with clustered housing, markets, and specialists in toolmaking, hide dressing, potting, jewelry making, shell engraving, weaving and salt making.

The civilization vanished in the 15th century for unknown reasons, but historians and archeologists have speculated that the people depleted the area of resources.

The small French settlements continued, although many French migrated west to Ste. In 1778, George Rogers Clark claimed Illinois County for Virginia.

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