Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Cyndy Cox
"The explorers of the country from Canada in the year 1673 found certain Indians southwest of Lake Michigan whose generic name was known as Illinois, or Illini, as Hennepin wrote it. Those Indians having that name and residing on the banks of the river gave that name to the Illinois River and to the whole country down to the mouth of the Ohio.
We are informed that Illini means, according to the Indian understanding of that word ,'real men' or 'superior men'. The Delaware Indians attach the same meaning to Lenni, and indicates in their language 'real' or 'superior men.' The writers on this subject state: that almost all the Indians of North America are of the Algonquin race, except the Iroquois. We may therefore conclude that the Delaware name of Lenni or Lenni-Lenape, is the same as the Illini, which gave the name of Illinois. If we take Indian tradition for our guide, we may conclude that the Delawares and the Illinois Indians are of the same family. Many of the western tribes call the Delawares their 'Grandfathers'.” (Source: The Pioneer History of Illinois, John Reynolds, p. 2)