The destruction of the Illini after contact with white settlers is one of the great tragedies in North American history.

An inaccurate painting of the Illinois

By the time American settlements reached them during the early 1800s, the Illini were nearly extinct and replaced by other tribes . For the most part, the blame for this could not be placed on a war with the Europeans or the Illini refusal to adapt themselves to a changing situation. Actually, few tribes had adapted as much or attached themselves more closely to the French. This made it easy to place responsibility for the fate of the Illini on their native enemies, or perhaps even nature itself. The story of the Illini's decline is a chilling indication of how the European presence, regardless of purpose or intention, unleashed destructive forces upon North America's native peoples which reached far beyond the immediate areas of their colonization.