Kickapoo people

The Kickapoo People (Kickapoo: Kiikaapoa or Kiikaapoi) are an Algonquian-speaking Native American and Indigenous Mexican tribe. Anishinaabeg say the name "Kickapoo" (Giiwigaabaw in the Anishinaabe language and its Kickapoo cognate Kiwikapawa) means "Stands here and there," which may have referred to the tribe's migratory patterns. The name can also mean "wanderer". This interpretation is contested and generally believed to be a folk etymology.

Today there are three federally recognized Kickapoo tribes in the United States: Kickapoo Tribe of Indians of the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas, the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. The Oklahoma and Texas bands are politically associated with each other. The Kickapoo in Kansas came from a relocation from southern Missouri in 1832 as a land exchange from their reserve there.[1] Around 3,000 people are enrolled tribal members. Another band, the Tribu Kikapú, resides in Múzquiz Municipality in the Mexican state of Coahuila. Smaller bands live in Sonora and Durango.

Ron McKinney, Kickapoo-Potawatomi,
DOCUMERICA project photo,
Doniphan County, Kansas, 1974
Total population
Roughly 5,000 (3,000 enrolled members)
Regions with significant populations
English, Spanish, Kickapoo
Native American Church; Christianity (many Catholic, some Protestant); tribal religious practices
Related ethnic groups
Sauk, Fox, other Algonquian peoples


Kickapoo, Babe Shkit, Chief and Delegate from Oklahoma - NARA - 523854
Babe Shkit, Kickapoo chief and delegate from Indian Territory, ca. 1900

The Kickapoo were an Algonquian-language people who likely migrated to or developed as a people in a large territory along the Wabash River in the area of modern Terre Haute, Indiana. They were confederated with the larger Wabash Confederacy, which included the Piankeshaw to their south, the Wea to their north, and the powerful Miami Tribe, to their east. A subgroup occupied the Upper Iowa River region in what was later known as northeast Iowa and the Root River region in southeast Minnesota in the late 1600s and early 1700s. This group was probably known by the clan name "Mahouea", derived from the Illinoian word for wolf, m'hwea.[2]

The earliest European contact with the Kickapoo tribe occurred during the La Salle Expeditions into Illinois Country in the late 17th century. The French colonists set up remote fur trading posts throughout the region, including on the Wabash River. They typically would set up posts at or near Native American villages, and Terre Haute was founded as a French village. The Kickapoo had to contend with a changing cast of Europeans; the British defeated the French in the Seven Years' War and took over nominal rule of this area after 1763. They increased their own trading with the Kickapoo.

The United States acquired this territory east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River after it gained independence from the United Kingdom. As white settlers moved into the region from the United States eastern areas, beginning in the early 19th century, the Kickapoo were under pressure. They negotiated with the United States over their territory in several treaties, including the Treaty of Vincennes, the Treaty of Grouseland, and the Treaty of Fort Wayne. They sold most of their lands to the United States and moved north to settle among the Wea.

Rising tensions between the regional tribes and the United States led to Tecumseh's War in 1811. The Kickapoo were one of Tecumseh's closest allies. Many Kickapoo warriors participated in the Battle of Tippecanoe and the subsequent War of 1812 on the side of the British, hoping to expel the American settlers from the region. A prominent, nonviolent spiritual leader among the Kickapoo was Kennekuk, who led his followers during Indian Removal in the 1830s to their current tribal lands in Kansas. He died there in 1852.

The close of the war led to a change of federal Indian policy in the Indiana Territory, and later the state of Indiana. American leaders began to advocate the removal of tribes to lands west of the Mississippi River, to extinguish their claims to lands wanted by American settlers. The Kickapoo were among the first tribes to leave Indiana under this program. They accepted land in Kansas and an annual subsidy in exchange for leaving the state.


Grupo Kikapú en Coahuila México
Kickapoo people building a Winter House in the town of Nacimiento Coahuila, México, 2008

Kickapoo speak an Algonquian language closely related to that of the Sauk and Fox. They are classified with the Central Algonquians, and are also related to the Illinois Confederation.

In 1985 the Kickapoo Nation's School in Horton, Kansas began a language immersion program for elementary school grades to revive teaching and use of the Kickapoo language in grades K-6.[3] Efforts in language education continue at most Kickapoo sites. In 2010, the Head Start Program at the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (KTTT) reservation, which teaches the Kickapoo language, became "the first Native American school to earn Texas School Ready! (TSR) Project certification."[4]

Also in 2010, Mexico's "Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) participated in the elaboration of a Kickapoo alphabet that may be used by more than 700 members of the group that dwell in Mexico and the United States, in the states of Coahuila and Texas. Previously no Kickapoo alphabet was used in Mexico; although there is a syllabic writing system it has no element ordination, organization or classification method."[5] The Kickapoo in Mexico are known for their whistled speech.

Texts,[6] recordings,[7] and a vocabulary[8] of the language are available.

The Kickapoo language and members of the Kickapoo tribe were featured in the movie The Only Good Indian (2009), directed by Greg Wilmott and starring Wes Studi. This was a fictionalized account of Native American children forced to attend an Indian boarding school, where they were forced to speak English and give up their cultures.[9]


The consonant sounds of the Kickapoo language are given below. The eight vowel sounds in Kickapoo are as followed: short /a, ɛ, i, o/ and long /aː, ɛː, iː, oː/. Three of the vowels /a, ɛ, o/, have allophones [ə, ɪ, ʊ~u].

Labial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar
or palatal
Velar Glottal
Stop p t k
Fricative θ s h
Nasal m n
Approximant j w

The voiceless sounds can also range to sounding voiced as [b, d, dʒ, ɡ, ð, z], but infrequently.

Some speakers may pronounce // as [ts].[10]

Tribes and communities

There are three federally recognized Kickapoo communities in the United States: one in Kansas, one in Texas, and the third in Oklahoma. The Mexican Kickapoo are closely tied to the Texas and Oklahoma communities. These groups migrate annually among the three locations to maintain connections. Indeed, the Texas and Mexican branch are the same cross-border nation, called Kickapoo of Coahuila/Texas [11]

Kickapoo Indian Reservation of Kansas

The Kickapoo Indian Reservation of Kansas is located at 39°40′51″N 95°36′41″W / 39.68083°N 95.61139°W in the northeastern part of the state in parts of three counties: Brown, Jackson, and Atchison. It has a land area of 612.203 square kilometres (236.373 sq mi) and a resident population of 4,419 as of the 2000 census. The largest community on the reservation is the city of Horton. The other communities are:

Kickapoo Indian Reservation of Texas

The Kickapoo Indian Reservation of Texas is located at 28°36′37″N 100°26′19″W / 28.61028°N 100.43861°W on the Rio Grande on the U.S.-Mexico border in western Maverick County, just south of the city of Eagle Pass, as part of the community of Rosita South. It has a land area of 0.4799 square kilometres (118.6 acres) and a 2000 census population of 420 persons. The Texas Indian Commission officially recognized the tribe in 1977.[12]

Other Kickapoo in Maverick County, Texas, constitute the "South Texas Subgroup of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma". That band owns 917.79 acres (3.7142 km2) of non-reservation land in Maverick County, primarily to the north of Eagle Pass. It has an office in that city.[13]

Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma

Kickapoo wickiup
A Kickapoo wickiup, Sac and Fox Agency, Oklahoma, ca. 1880.

After being expelled from the Republic of Texas, many Kickapoo moved south to Mexico, but the population of two villages settled in Indian Territory. One village settled within the Chickasaw Nation and the other within the Muscogee Creek Nation. These Kickapoo were granted their own reservation in 1883 and became recognized as the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma.

The reservation was short-lived. In 1893 under the Dawes Act, their communal tribal lands were broken up[14] and assigned to separate member households by allotments. The tribe's government was dismantled by the Curtis Act of 1898, which encouraged assimilation by Native Americans to the majority culture. Tribal members struggled under these conditions.

In the 1930s the federal and state governments encouraged tribes to reorganize their governments. This one formed the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma in 1936, under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act.[15]

Today the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma is headquartered in McLoud, Oklahoma. Their tribal jurisdictional area is in Oklahoma, Pottawatomie, and Lincoln counties. They have 2,719 enrolled tribal members.[16]

See also


  2. ^ Colin M., Betts. "Rediscovering the Mahouea". Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society 58:23-33. Archived from the original on November 19, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  3. ^ Reaves, Michell Reaves (2001-08-11). "Canku Ota - Aug. 11, 2001 - Indians Value Their Language". Canku Ota (Many Paths), An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America, Medill News Service (42). Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  4. ^ "Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas First Native American Tribe to Achieve Texas School Ready! Certification". Newswise, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. 2010-01-26. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  5. ^ "Kickapoo Language Prepared to be Written". Art Daily. 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  6. ^ "OLAC resources in and about the Kickapoo language". Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  7. ^ "Recordings for study of the Shawnee, Kickapoo, Ojibwa, and Sauk-and-Fox :: American Philosophical Society". Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  8. ^ "OLAC Record: Kickapoo vocabulary". Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  9. ^ "Kickapoo Language, Culture to be Featured in Film". Hiawatha World Online. 2007-09-12. Archived from the original on 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  10. ^ Voorhis, Paul H. (1974). Introduction to the Kickapoo Language. Indiana University Publications.
  11. ^ Mager, Elisabeth (2011). "The Kickapoo Of Coahuila/Texas Cultural Implications Of Being A Cross-Border Nation" (PDF). Voices of Mexico (90): 36–40.
  12. ^ Miller, Tom. On the Border: Portraits of America's Southwestern Frontier, pp. 67.
  13. ^ Maverick County Appraisal District property tax appraisals, 2007
  14. ^ Withington, W.R. (1952). "Kickapoo Titles in Oklahoma". 23 Oklahoma Bar Association Journal 1751. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  15. ^ Annette Kuhlman, "Kickapoo", Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, 2009 (accessed 21 February 2009)
  16. ^ Oklahoma Indian Affairs. Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine, 2008:21

Further reading

  • Grant Foreman, The Last Trek of the Indians: An Account of the Removal of the Indians from North of the Ohio River, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946
  • Arrell M. Gibson, The Kickapoo: Lords of the Middle Border, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963
  • Mager Elisabeth (2017) Ethnic Consciousness in Cultural Survival: The Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas . American Indian Culture and Research Journal: 2017, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 47-72.
  • M. Christopher Nunley, "Kickapoo Indians," in The New Handbook of Texas, Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996.
  • Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986
  • Joseph B. Herring, Kennekuk: The Kickapoo Prophet, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1988

External links


1765 (MDCCLXV)

was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1765th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 765th year of the 2nd millennium, the 65th year of the 18th century, and the 6th year of the 1760s decade. As of the start of 1765, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Arigon Starr

Arigon Starr is a Kickapoo singer, actor, playwright and comic book writer, who is known for her one-woman shows. She has won numerous awards for her music, art, and plays, including the Native American Music Awards for Best Independent Recording in 1999 and Songwriter of the Year in 2007. In 2016, Starr edited the graphic novel Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, which was named one of the American Library Associations 2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens. She won a Tulsa Artist Fellowship in 2017 and her play Round House was produced by the New Native Play Festival in 2018 .

Starr has stated that her writings are intended to counter negative Indigenous stereotypes. She is the first Native American woman to have her own record label: "Wacky Productions" and has created four albums under this label.

Cherokee Nation of Mexico

The Cherokee Nation of Mexico, also known as the Cherokee Nation of Sequoyah of Mexico, Texas, and U.S.A. Reservation and Church is an organization of individuals who claim descent from Cherokee tribe who migrated to Mexico during the 19th century. They are an unrecognized tribe with a presence in Zaragoza, Coahuila, Mexico. According to Robert J. Conley, the Cherokee Nation of Mexico is recognized by the state of Coahuilla; however, according to the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas, which manages the official surveys of indigenous groups in Mexico, the only Native Mexicans in Coahuila are the Kickapoo people.Their chief is Charles L. Rogers. Charles L. Rogers, the Ancient Cherokee Church of Mexico, the Cherokee Nation of Mexico, and the Native American Church sued American Express Bank and others in Texas Western District Court in 2013.The Cherokee Nation of Mexico Texas and Coahuila Reservation and Church was headquartered in Brownsville, Texas, United States. Today they are an IRS 170(b)(1)(A)(i) organization, listed as a "Religion-Related, Spiritual Development" and Christian church, with Unconditional Tax Exemption, located in Dripping Springs, Texas.


Cradleboards (Cheyenne: pâhoešestôtse, Northern Sami: gietkka, Skolt Sami: ǩiõtkâm) are traditional protective baby-carriers used by many indigenous cultures in North America and throughout northern Scandinavia amongst the Sámi. There are a variety of styles of cradleboard, reflecting the diverse artisan practises of indigenous cultures. Some indigenous communities in North America still use cradleboards.

Emilio Fernández

Emilio "El Indio" Fernández (born Emilio Fernández Romo, Spanish: [eˈmiljo feɾˈnandes ˈromo]; March 26, 1904 – August 6, 1986) was a Mexican film director, actor and screenwriter. He was one of the most prolific film directors of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. He is best known for his work as director of the film María Candelaria (1944), which won the Palme d'Or award at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. As an actor, he worked in numerous film productions in Mexico and in Hollywood.

John DeBras Miles

John DeBras Miles (June 7, 1832– March 20, 1925) was an American Indian agent at the Kickapoo people Agency and at the Darlington Agency for the Cheyenne and Arapaho.

Judy Coser

Judy Coser is a Native American artist from the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Known for her intricate bead work and recreation of traditional clothing and cultural items, Coser's work has been purchased by the Philbrook and Gilcrease museums in Tulsa, OK.


Keannekeuk (c. 1790–1852), also known as the "Kickapoo Prophet", was a Kickapoo medicine man and spiritual leader of the Vermilion band of the Kickapoo nation. He lived in East Central Illinois much of his life along the Vermilion River and led a community of followers, whose beliefs centered on non-violence, passive resistance to resettlement, abstinence from alcohol, and meditation. He favored moderate, nonviolent accommodation and coexistence with American westward expansion, and a settled agricultural life. These views caused him and his followers to suffer derision and alienation from some of the other Kickapoo bands. His tribal community's religious outlook embodied a type of Christian evangelism in some respects and a group of Potawatomi converts joined his following over time. He died on the reservation in Kansas in 1852.

Reverend William H. Honnell, who visited a few years after Kennekuk's death, reported that Kennekuk went back and forth between Christian teachings and "heathenism."Some Kickapoo descendants still follow the tenets of his preaching.

Kickapoo, Illinois

Kickapoo is an unincorporated community in Kickapoo Township, Peoria County, Illinois, United States. Kickapoo is located on U.S. Route 150, 10.8 miles (17.4 km) northwest of downtown Peoria.It was named after the Kickapoo people.

Kickapoo, Kansas

Kickapoo is an unincorporated community in Kickapoo Township, Leavenworth County, Kansas, USA.

Kickapoo Center, Wisconsin

Kickapoo Center is an unincorporated community located in the town of Kickapoo, Vernon County, Wisconsin, United States. Kickapoo Center is located on Wisconsin Highway 131 near the Kickapoo River, 3 miles (4.8 km) south-southwest of Viola.

Kickapoo Joy Juice

Kickapoo Joy Juice is a citrus-flavored soft drink brand owned by the Monarch Beverage Company. The name was introduced in Li'l Abner, a comic strip that ran from 1934 through 1977. Although Li'l Abner's Kickapoo Joy Juice was an alcoholic drink, the real world beverage is a lightly carbonated soft drink.

Kickapoo Township, Leavenworth County, Kansas

Kickapoo Township is a township in Leavenworth County, Kansas, in the United States.

Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas

The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, based in Eagle Pass, is a federally recognized tribe that uses revenue from its gaming and business operations to provide housing, education and social services to its members. The tribe is a model for other Native American tribes seeking to lift its members out of poverty, because they were living under the international bridge over the Rio Grande as recently as the 1980s.

Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas

The Kickapoo Tribe of Indians of the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas is one of three Federally recognized tribes of Kickapoo people. The other Kickapoo tribes in the United States are the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas and the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. The Tribu Kikapú are a distinct subgroup of the Oklahoma Kickapoo and reside on a hacienda near Múzquiz Coahuila, Mexico; they also have a small band located in the Mexican states of Sonora and Durango.

The Kansas Kickapoo Tribe owns a gymnasium, day care center, senior center, and the Kickapoo Nation school, which teaches grades from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Mexican Kickapoo

The Mexican Kickapoo (Tribu Kikapú) are a bi-national indigenous people, some of whom live both in Mexico and in the United States. In Mexico, they were granted land at Hacienda del Nacimiento near the town of Múzquiz in the state of Coahuila in 1850. A few small groups of Kickapoo also live in the states of Sonora and Durango. The Mexican Kickapoo often work as migrants in Texas and move throughout the midwest and the western United States, returning in winter to Mexico. They are affiliated with the federally recognized tribes of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, and Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas.

In 1979 the Mexican Kickapoo who were dual residents requested clarification of their status, as they had no clear legal status in either the United States or Mexico. An Act was passed in 1983 by the United States Congress, which recognized them as a distinct subgroup of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma. It also granted federal recognition to the Texas Kickapoo. A 1985 law gave the Texas band the option of selecting Mexican or U.S. citizenship. Some 145 of the tribe members chose to become U.S. citizens and the remaining 500 or so chose to obtain Mexican citizenship.

Vestana Cadue

Vestana Cadue (Kickapoo name: Pam-o-thah-ah-quah) (January 31, 1901 – 22 June 1974) was the first female chairperson of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas. She was elected just months prior to the passage of House Concurrent Resolution 108 calling for the termination of her tribe. She led the tribal effort to successfully defeat enactment of a termination bill on the Kansas Kickapoo.


The Wea were a Miami-Illinois-speaking Native American tribe originally located in western Indiana, closely related to the Miami Tribe. The name Wea is used today as the a shortened version of their numerous recorded names. The Wea name for themselves (autonym) in their own language is waayaahtanwa, derived from waayaahtanonki, 'place of the whirlpool', where they were first recorded being seen and where they were living at that time. The different spellings of their name are numerous, as they were made by different settlers from different language and educational backgrounds. One French version is Ouiatenon; another Ouiateno; there were Wea villages, whose sites are now known as Lafayette and Terre Haute, Indiana, respectively. In 2004 the Indiana Historical Bureau installed a marker commemorating the Wea Village in Terre Haute and its living descendants. The Wea spoke a dialect of Miami, the same language as the Miami Tribe, both from the Algonquian languages.

Tribal languages
(still spoken)
Native people
U.S. people
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