Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) History
The Kiikaapoi derive from the Algonquian language group, brethren of the Pottawatomie, Menomonee, Sauk and Fox, and Shawnee, among others, all share a close similarity in language and customs. The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas consists of approximately 1,600 enrolled members, not including those bands located in Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico. This nation has overcome centuries of oppression from the United States government and their continuous attempts at assimilation. From the initial contact of the early Europeans, the Kickapoo have been resistant of the European views and customs. Today, with over 1,600 enrolled members of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, half still reside on the reservation assigned to them in the Treaty of 1854. Although the land size has diminished enormously since then, the people still call it home.
The Kiikaapoi were one of many Great Lakes Tribes that occupied the western portion of the woodland area in southern Michigan near Lake Erie. However, European invasion changed the lives and cultures of these woodland tribes forever. When the Iroquois War (1641-1701) occurred it forced many northeastern tribes west into the Great Lakes Region. The refugees of the Iroquois incursions were forced to flee into neighboring Indian countries, leaving behind their homelands. Among these Great Lake Nations forced to flee, was the Kickapoo. The incessant depredations of the Iroquois had forced the Kickapoo to flee to neighboring Wisconsin, occupied largely by the Winnebago and Menomonee Nations. War, trading disputes, along with the epidemics of disease brought by the oncoming Europeans, was the driving factors of this shift of nations. By 1701, the Iroquois had lost a great deal of its power and fell at the hands of the Great Lake Tribes and Algonquian Nations. At this point, the tribes that had fled into neighboring Wisconsin were free to move on into their own territory. The Kickapoo never returned to Michigan, instead they found an opportunity to eliminate their adversary, the Illinois Tribes and conquer the lands they claimed in the present-day Illinois and western Indiana. A few factors that impacted the decision for the Kickapoo migration from Wisconsin into the Illinois country, was (1) Kickapoo-French relations (2) Sioux incursions and (3) the success of the tribes in the wars with the Illini Confederacy (Iroquois). The occupation of a great portion of the Illinois country and western Indiana proved to be beneficial to the survival of the Kickapoo Nation and their allies. Adaptation to the plains life was nearly effortless. The Kickapoo and their allies occupied this territory throughout the remainder of the 1700's and on into the middle of the 19th century. Up until around 1832, the Kickapoos resided in the Illinois country, until the infamous United States treaty-making period. The Kickapoo Tribe entered into 10 treaties with the United States government from 1795 to 1854 These treaties brought devastating consequences; the treaties shifted the homelands of the Kickapoos from Illinois to Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico. Today, the Kickapoo is divided into four separate bands, The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, The Kickapoo Tribe in Oklahoma, The Texas Band of Kickapoo, and the Mexican-Kickapoos.