Adventures in Truth-telling

Episode Seven


Now is the time to bring the perspectives, tell the stories, and value the leadership of Illinois’ indigenous people. Our guest Heather Miller, the first-ever director of tribal relations and historic preservation at the Illinois State Museum, and Sister Marcelline Koch do just that in this touching and sensitive conversation about the value of respecting indigenous wisdom and engaging in actions that heal and renew.


About our guests

Heather Miller, an enrolled member of the Wyandot Nation, is the first-ever director of tribal relations and historic preservation at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Ill.

Sister Marcelline Koch is the director of the Springfield Dominican Sisters Justice office and co-chair of SDART, the sisters’ antiracism team.



  • Where you stand determines what you see; what you see determines where you stand.
  • There are no federally recognized tribes in Illinois because the erasure of the indigenous people from this state was complete. This is the case for 14 states.
  • We can be inspired by the indigenous people’s relationship to Earth.
  • Illinois State Museum is in the process of returning to the tribes the human remains and artifacts in the museum. The tribes are allowed to determine where these remains are buried.
  • Knowledge and power lies in the relationships people build across cultures, traditions, and the natural world.



Our land acknowledgement: “We are speaking to you from Springfield, which lies in the portion of land that has only recently been given the name central Illinois but was far longer home to the Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamie, Tamaroa, Kickapoo, Peoria and some six other nations that made up the Illini Peoples.”

This is not a complete picture, but we are getting close.


Addressing time periods. Cahokia tribes were the ancestors of some of the other ancestors. Need to acknowledge timeline.

Illinois State Museum

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

Illinois Human Remains Protection Act

Wyandotte Nation

Hopewell Culture

We Must Decolonize Our Museums: A TEDx talk by Cinnamon Caitlin-Legutko

The 3-step prayer of Sister Jose Hobday

More about Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass and the young readers’ edition

1 thought on “Adventures in Truth-telling”

  1. Nancy Murray OP

    What a wonderful discussion! I learned a lot. As native of Illinois, I found this dialogue very informative. Here in Adrian, MI, we will be participating on an Indigenous Day presentation on Monday. I feel like I will be going into it with more insights after hearing you.
    Thank you very much.

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