Bourbonnais (pronounced or ) is a village in Kankakee County, Illinois, United States. The population was 18,631 in the 2010 census, but had grown to 19,462 in the 2019 census estimate. It is part of the Kankakee-Bourbonnais-Bradley Metropolitan Statistical Area. The village is named for François Bourbonnais, Sr., a fur trapper, hunter and agent of the American Fur Company, who had married a Native American woman and arrived in the area near the fork of two major Indian trails and the Kankakee River circa 1830. John Jacob Astor had founded the company in 1808, and when the United States banned foreign (i.e. British and Canadian) companies (such as the Hudson’s Bay Company) from competing in the country after the War of 1812, it flourished. By 1830 it had a near monopoly of fur trading in the midwest, but the number of local trappable wild animals had declined.
In 1832, Noel Le Vasseur arrived as the Astor firm local fur trading agent, establishing a trading post in the area, and becoming the first permanent non-Native American settler. He married Watseka, niece of a Potawatomi chieftain, and after the Potawatomi were relocated to Iowa, recruited French-Canadiens to settle around his store. The Potawatomi were forced to move westward by a series of treaties culminating in the Treaty of Tippecanoe, which Congress ratified in 1833. The treaty reserved two sections for Potawanomi chief Me-she-ke-te-no, and one section each for Catish (Mrs. Bourbonnais, Sr.) and Manteno (daughter of Francois Bourbonnais, Jr.).
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