Kickapoo Indians

Kickapoo Indians

Kickapoo Indians

The Kickapoos were original residents of Wisconsin and the upper Michigan peninsula. The name Kickapoo is a derivation of the Algonquin word meaning "he stands out" or "he moves about." The Kickapoo speak an Algonquin language closely related to that spoken by the Sauk, Fox and the Shawnee. In fact, Kickapoo tradition asserts that they and the Shawnee were once one people.

The Kickapoo lived in permanent villages in the summer but split into smaller groups for the winter. The Kickapoo were hunters and farmers. Their principal crops were corn, squash and beans. Buffalo was the primary hunting target in the winter. They became skilled horse riders, using it extensively in the buffalo hunt.

During the 1750s the Kickapoo left Wisconsin and headed south to the prairies of Illinois and Indiana. Here they had better buffalo hunting as well as easier access to British traders. The Kickapoo eventually split into two separate bands. The Prairie Band lived in Northern Illinois and was allied with the Sauk and Fox. To the south, the Vermillion Band was friendly with the Illinois. The Prairie Band however, was hostile to the Illinois. During the American Revolution the Kickapoo tried to remain neutral. However, by the mid 1870s they engaged in an increasing number of raids on the Americans. Lacking cohesion and strong leadership, the Kickapoos were captured and forced west of the Mississippi onto Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma reservations. Some of the Kickapoos escaped and their descendants now live in Illinois.

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