Tribal possession of land was a natural enough concomitant of the simple political and social organization of the Illinois Indians. The land had come down by descent from their ancestors, whose bones were preserved in its bosom, and they felt themselves obligated to hand it on to their children and their children's children for countless generations to come. To alienate the tribal title was an inconceivable idea. This absence of a well-developed concept for private ownership of land was long a stumbling block for a mutual understanding between the Indians and the whites. To allow the whites to use the land was one thing; to cede to them the permanent possession of the land was quite different and to the Indians an act outside of their experience. (42)

The Illinois Country: 1673-1818 (1920)
Clarence Walworth Alvord