Kickapoo Tribe

Kickapoo Shaman -  Ah-ton-we-tuck

The Kickapoo Tribe
Summary and Definition: The fiercely independent Kickapoo tribe originated in the southern Great Lakes Region but were forced to migrate to many of the states to the South and to the West as the Iroquois Confederacy waged war on their people and the European colonists and settlers encroached on their lands.

The Kickapoo lifestyle changed with  each new location from the forest woodlands to the culture of the buffalo hunters of the Great Plains. The present day Kickapoo tribe comprise mainly of groups living in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico.

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Facts about the Kickapoo Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Kickapoo Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Kickapoo tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Kickapoo tribe with facts about their wars and history.

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Kickapoo tribe?
The fiercely independent Kickapoo tribe were  from southern Great Lakes region. The French established New France in the 1600's and established trading links with the tribe. The Kickapoo were allies of the French during the violent Beaver Wars (1640 - 1701) and the long running French and Indian Wars (1688-1763). The Kickapoo enemies were the tribes of the powerful Iroquois Confederacy who forced them to migrate further south and west. This set a pattern for the Kickapoo who migrated to new lands time and time again rather than be dominated by other tribes or the European settlers. In 1785 the Kickapoo joined the Western Confederacy that consisted of a league of many different tribes including the Shawnee, Iroquois, Potawatomi, Ottawa, Delaware, Chippewa, Huron and the Seneca tribes.

The objective of the Western Confederacy was to keep the Ohio River as a boundary between Native Indian lands and the United States. They fought in many conflicts with other tribes against the settlers but were pushed further away from their homelands. The Kickapoo tribe adapted to the changing environments and climates of each of their new locations, adopting different lifestyles as they moved. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 resulted in the Kickapoo tribe being forcibly moved to reservations.

Picture of the Kickapoo Native Indian Shaman - Ah-ton-we-tuck
The above picture depicts Ah-ton-we-tuck, meaning  Cock Turkey, who was a distinguished Kickapoo Shaman. It was painted by the famous artist George Catlin (1796-1872) at Fort Leavenworth in 1830. The Shaman was a disciple of Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet and the brother of Tecumseh. The Shaman is depicted holding a Prayer Stick that used to make petitions to the spirit world. He wears various items of decoration and his hair is partially shaved leaving a mane at the back of the head, which was a traditional hairstyle for the Kickapoo. The warriors of the Kickapoo tribe would attach a roach headdress to their hair.


Where did the Kickapoo tribe live?
The Kickapoo were originally people of the Northeast Woodland Native American cultural group. The location of their original tribal homelands are shown on the map.  The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Kickapoo tribe.

  • The Kickapoo originally lived in northwest Ohio and southern Michigan in the area between Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. They migrated to Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and southern Missouri but then continued to move even further south and to the west

  • The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Kickapoo tribe

  • Climate: The climate varied according to the location of the tribe

Map showing Northeast Woodland location - Kickapoo tribe

Map showing location of the Northeast or
Eastern Woodland Indians Cultural Group and the early Kickapoo Tribe


Kickapoo Tribe: Picture of a wigwam

What did the Kickapoo tribe live in?
The Kickapoo tribe lived in a variety of different shelters, the most common was the
Wigwam, a form of temporary shelter that was used by Algonquian speaking Native Indian tribes who lived in the woodland regions. Wigwams were small cone-shaped houses with an arched roof made of wooden frames that are covered with woven mats and sheets of birchbark which are held in place by ropes or strips of wood.

Some Kickapoo wigwams were covered with buffalo hides if this was a major resource in the area they lived in. Wigwams were usually about 8-10 feet tall and 10 - 15 feet wide at the base.

What language did the Kickapoo tribe speak?
The Kickapoo tribe spoke in a related dialect of the Algonquian language family. Their name comes from the Algonquin word 'Kiwegapawa' meaning "he stands about" or "he moves about."

What food did the Kickapoo tribe eat?
The food that the Kickapoo tribe ate depended on the natural resources that were available to them in the locations that they lived in.

  • The food of the Kickapoo Northeast Woodland people were fish and small game including squirrel, deer, elk, raccoon, bear and beaver. Corn (maize), squash, beans and pumpkin were also available

  • The food of the Kickapoo people who inhabited the Great Plains region was predominantly buffalo but also they also hunted deer, bear and wild turkey. Their diet was supplemented with roots and wild fruit and vegetables
  • The food of the Kickapoo people who inhabited the Southeast regions included meat from animals such as rabbits, wild hogs, turkeys, opossums, raccoons and deer. Many farmed crops of corn (maize), beans, dried fruit, pumpkins and nuts

What weapons did the Kickapoo use?
The weapons used by the Kickapoo tribe included bows and arrows, a variety of different clubs, hatchet axes, spears, lances and knives. The rifle was added to their weapons with the advent of the white settlers.

What type of Transportation did the Kickapoo use? Birch Bark Canoes
The Kickapoo Native Americans who inhabited the Northeast Woodland regions built river canoes made from the bark of the birch trees over a wooden frame. These lightweight Birch Bark river canoes were broad enough to float in shallow streams, strong enough to shoot dangerous rapids, and light enough for one man to easily carry a canoe on his back.

Birch Bark Canoe

What clothes did the Kickapoo tribe wear?
The clothes worn by the Kickapoo tribe were dictated by the climate. In warm climates they wore breechcloths in the summer and in cold climates they wore fringed tunics and leggings. The women wore wraparound skirts. Warm robes or cloaks were also worn to protect against the rain and the cold. The Kickapoo tribe also adopted the types of clothes worn by the white settlers and that were available through trade.

Kickapoo History: What happened to the Kickapoo tribe?
The following Kickapoo history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Kickapoo timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Kickapoo History Timeline

  • 1600s: The Kickapoo lived in the southern Great Lakes Region

  • 1600's: New France' was established in the area of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. New France was divided into five colonies of Canada, Acadia, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Louisiana

  • 1600's: Jesuit missionary Claude Jean Allouez, vicar general of Quebec, visited the Kickapoo between the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers

  • 1634: Devastating epidemics of smallpox are spread by the Europeans.

  • 1640: The Beaver Wars (1640 - 1701), also called the French and Iroquois Wars, were fought by tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy against the French and their Indian allies who included the Kickapoo

  • 1649: Attacks by the Iroquois force the Kickapoo to scatter

  • 1670: Hudson Bay Company is formed establishing significant fur trading in Lake Superior region

  • 1688: The French and Indian Wars (1688-1763) begin marking the outbreak of King William's War (1688-1699) and the Kickapoo become allies of the French

  • 1696: Price of furs begins to collapse

  • 1702: Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) and the tribe fight with the French

  • 1702: Numerous Native Indian tribes including the Kickapoo, were invited by the French to settle in the trading area of Fort Detroit

  • 1702: Another smallpox epidemic results in the deaths of many Kickapoo

  • 1712: The First French Fox War (17121716) began when Fox, Kickapoo, and Mascouten attacked Fort Pontchartrain

  • 1744: King George's War (1744 - 1748)

  • 1754: French Indian War (1754 - 1763), also known as the 7 year war, was the fourth and final series of conflicts in the French and Indian Wars fought between the British and the French. Both sides were aided by Native Indian allies

  • 1763: French and Indian War ends in victory for the British ending the colony of New France

  • 1763: The outbreak of Pontiac's War (17631766) in which Native American tribes resisted British settlement of the Great Lakes region

  • 1769: The Kickapoo join the 'Three Fires' (Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi) in forcing the Peoria from the Illinois River. The Kickapoo move to the middle Illinois River and the valley of the Sangamon where they became known as the 'Kickapoo of the Prairie'

  • 1775: The War of Independence (17751783) - the Kickapoo fought with the British

  • 1785: The Western Confederacy was formed consisting of many different tribes who aimed to keep the Ohio River as a boundary between Native Indian lands and the United States

  • 1785: Little Turtle's war (17851795), aka the Northwest Indian War erupted

  • 1787: The 1787 ordinance of Congress organized the North-western Territory, out of which the States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin were eventually formed, creating hostility with the tribes of the Great Lakes and beyond

  • 1790: Harmar's defeat. General Josiah Harmar attempted to subdue Native Indians in the Northwest Territory but was defeated by a tribal coalition led by Little Turtle and Blue Jacket

  • 1791: Battle of the Wabash on November 4, 1791. Chief Little Turtle and Chief Blue Jacket led 1,000 warriors to a great victory battle against Major General Arthur St. Clair's 1,400 federal troops

  • 1791: The Wabash Kickapoo join with the Miami tribe in the 1791 uprising

  • 1794: Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. Major General Anthony Wayne defeated Little Turtle and the coalition of Native Indians

  • 1795: The Treaty of Greenville ended Little Turtle's war and Native Indian tribes were forced to cede much of present-day Ohio and Indiana to the United States

  • 1804: The Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered the Kickapoo tribe in April 1804 and again on their return journey in 1806

  • 1800's: Conflicts erupt between settlers and Native Indians including the Illinois, Iroquois, Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Miami, Shawnee, Sauk and Fox tribes throughout the 1800's

  • 1811: Tecumseh's War (18111813). The Kickapoo join the Shawnee chief Tecumseh in an attempt to reclaim Indian lands.

  • 1813: Peoria War (1813). The conflict between the U. S. Army, settlers and the Native American tribes of the Potawatomi and the Kickapoo tribes in the Peoria area of Illinois. Their villages were attacked and the tribes left the area

  • 1819: The Kickapoo leave Illinois and Indiana and move to Missouri

  • 1830: The Indian Removal Act of 1830

  • 1832: Black Hawk War broke out in Northern Illinois and Southwestern Wisconsin. Sauk and Fox tribes were led by Chief Black Hawk were joined by other tribes in an attempt to re-take their homeland

  • 1832: The Kickapoo tribe were removed to southern Missouri but many moved fled west and south into Mexico

  • 1840s: Most of the Kickapoo people were forcibly moved to Kansas

  • 1867: Following the American Civil War, many Kickapoo people were sent to Indian Territory in Oklahoma

  • 1887: The Dawes General Allotment Act led to the break up of the large Indian Reservations and the sale of Native Indian lands to white settlers.

Currently, there are three federally-recognized Kickapoo tribes: the Kickapoo of Oklahoma, the Kickapoo of Kansas and the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas.

Kickapoo History Timeline


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the Kickapoo people lived
  • The clothes worn by men and women
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Kickapoo would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Kickapoo
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Kickapoo Native American Indians

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Kickapoo Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Kickapoo nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Kickapoo tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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