Kickapoo Indians


The name Kickapoo is derived from Kiwigapawa which means "he moves about, standing now here, now there." The tribe has also been known as the "Mexican Kickapoo" and "Texas Kickapoo."


The Kickapoo Tribe belongs to the Algonquian linguistic family. They have a close ethnic tie to the Sac and Fox tribe.


A Catholic missionary found the tribe living in southern Wisconsin around 1667. After the French and Indian War (and the resulting breakup of the Illinois tribe), the Kickapoo moved into what is now southern Illinois. Treaty relations with the U.S. began with the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. A treaty in 1819 ceded all Kickapoo lands in Illinois (nearly half that state) and assigned them a reservation in Missouri at which point part of the tribe moved to Texas.

In 1835, a new treaty replaced the Missouri land with a 12-square-mile reservation in what is now northeastern Kansas. Part of this was later reduced and opened to white settlement, another part went to allotments for tribe members. In 1883, a rich 100,000-acre reservation at the center of Indian Territory was given them; in 1891, it was ceded and allotments were provided to tribal members although two-thirds of the tribe refused to acknowledge the agreement. In 1895, their reservation was organized as part of Oklahoma Territory and surplus lands were opened to white settlement by a run.


The Kickapoo have always been independent and clannish, especially in retaining their tribal religious beliefs and ceremonies. They lived in their traditional bark-covered houses, which were arranged in villages, up to the last years the reservation existed. They were mainly farming people, but went to hunt buffalo in the West and so they became one of the first tribes from the Illinois country to learn about horses.


Gilcrease & Philbrook Museums (Tulsa); exhibits at the State Museum of History (OKC).