The afrofuturistic wonderland from Black Panther is not a real, physical place, but Wauconda, a small village just about an hour outside of Chicago, Illinois, is. And like the fictional Wakandans, the actual Waucondans would really like it if you stopped bothering them about vibranium.
In the days since Black Panther hit theatres, people living in Wauconda have been receiving calls and emails from people with questions about Wakanda and whether the city was planning on changing anything about itself to celebrate the movie. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter Wauconda’s mayor described a number of calls her office has received with people shouting “Wakanda forever!” or asking if the town of less than 20,000 is hiding Wakanda’s valuable metal:
“At first, I was like, is there a full moon out? Someone called and asked how we pronounced the village name and when I told him, he began yelling, ‘Wakanda forever!’ which I am guessing is from the film.”
It’s interesting to note that Wauconda’s name comes from a word that translates to “god” in the language of the Kaw and Osage Nations. In Osage, the word is typically written as “Wah.Kon.Tah” though it’s pronounced identically to Wakanda.
When asked recently by Indian Country Today whether Marvel’s borrowing “Wakanda” for the name of its fictional African country was appropriative or offensive, Osage tribe member and language student Kilan Jacobs said that personally, it didn’t bother him because of the respect the movie has for the name:
“It was a sacred home place to them. Beyond that, I have no way of knowing if in some real African language this is an actual place name or word they have as well. But overall I felt no disrespect or misdoing. The movie was great and uplifting.”