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Portal:Illinois

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Illinois is a state in the Midwestern United States. It is the 5th most populous and 25th largest state, and is often noted as a microcosm of the country. With Chicago and its suburbs in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base and is a major transportation hub.

Prehistoric Illinois was the site of Cahokia, the largest urban center of the Mississippian culture. The Illinois Confederation, from which the state takes its name, dominated the region during the contact period, but by the time of the American Revolution, only about 2,000 Native Americans and a small number of French villagers inhabited the area. Anglo-American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1810s. Illinois achieved statehood in 1818. Northerners arrived later via the Great Lakes, founding Chicago in the 1830s. The invention of the steel plow and growth of railroads made it possible to profitably farm the rich prairie land of central Illinois, attracting large numbers of immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. Northern Illinois provided major support for Illinoisans Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War. By 1900, industry was growing rapidly in the northern cities, along with coal mines in central and southern areas. This industrialization attracted large numbers of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe and many African Americans in the Great Migration from the Southern United States, who developed renowned jazz and blues cultures in Chicago.

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Uncle Tupelo was an alternative country music group from Belleville, Illinois, active between 1987 and 1994. Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Mike Heidorn formed the band after the lead singer of their previous band, The Primitives, left to attend to college. The trio recorded three albums for Rockville Records, before signing with Sire Records and expanding to a five-piece. Shortly after the release of the band's major label debut album Anodyne, Farrar announced his decision to leave the band due to a soured relationship with his co-songwriter Tweedy. Uncle Tupelo split on May 1, 1994, after completing a farewell tour. Following the breakup, Farrar formed Son Volt, while the remaining members continued as Wilco.

Although Uncle Tupelo broke up before it achieved commercial success, the band is renowned for its impact on the alternative country music scene. The group's first album, No Depression, became a byword for the genre and influenced artists such as Whiskeytown. Uncle Tupelo's sound was unlike popular country music of the time, drawing inspiration from styles as diverse as the hardcore punk of The Minutemen and the country instrumentation and harmony of the Carter Family and Hank Williams. Farrar and Tweedy lyrics frequently referenced Middle America and the working class of Belleville. (Read more...)

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CM Punk

CM Punk is an American professional wrestler and wrestling color commentator currently signed to WWE on its Raw brand. Punk initially came to prominence through his career on the professional wrestling independent circuit, primarily as a member of the Ring of Honor (ROH) roster, where he won the ROH Tag Team Championship, ROH World Championship, and was the first head trainer of the ROH wrestling school. In 2005, Punk signed a contract with WWE and was sent to its developmental promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where he won every championship available in the promotion.

Throughout his career, Punk has consistently used the gimmick of being straight edge, a lifestyle he follows in real life. Depending on Punk's alignment as a crowd favorite or villain, he emphasizes different aspects of the culture to encourage the desired audience reaction. Since becoming the leader of The New Nexus, Punk's character has changed and evolved that his identity as a straight edge has no longer been mentioned and Punk himself refers himself as a prophet and portrays himself as a leader stereotype who guides his followers. Read more...)

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Sunset at Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest
The Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest. The unglaciated gray sandstone of the wilderness area is more rugged than most of Illinois.
Photo credit: Daniel Schwen

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