A quartzite boulder marks Pottowatomi Chief Alexander Robinson's grave near Lawrence and East River Road. The marker lies in a tiny clearing on two square miles given to Robinson by the federal government as a reward for helping persuade local tribes to abandon their territories without a fight in 1829.
That land was for Robinson and his heirs "forever," and no one could lease or sell any of it without "permission of the president of the United States," President John Tyler wrote in the treaty ratification in 1843.
Today, much of that "Robinson Reservation" is Cook County Forest Preserve and a Schiller Park subdivision. None belongs to Robinson's kin. After years scouring thousands of public records, some of Robinson's heirs say they're certain the biggest chunk of the family land was stolen from them by Cook County government leaders who condemned the land without presidential approval.