Kickapoo Indian Tribe Customs

Customs and Beliefs. The Kickapoo, lived in fixed villages, occupying bark houses in the summer and flag-reed oval lodges during the winter. They raised corn, beans, and squashes, and while dwelling on the east side of the Mississippi they often wandered out on the plains to hunt buffalo. On these hunting trips they came to know the horse, and previous to the Civil war they had gone as far as Texas for the sole purpose of stealing horses and mules from the Comanche. No other Algonquians of the central group were more familiar with the Indians of the plains than the Kickapoo; and yet, with all this contact, their culture has remained essentially the same as that of the Sauk and the Foxes.

Like the Sauk and Foxes they believe in a cosmic substance prevailing throughout all nature, and the objects endowed with the mystic property are given special reverence. Far in the past they claim to have practiced the Midéwiwin; but to-day their most sacred ceremony is the Kigänowini, the feast dance of the clans. The dog is held in special veneration and is made an object of sacrifice and offering to the manitos. The mythology is rich, and is characterized by a mass of beast fable. The great cosmic myth centers about the death of the younger brother of the culture hero, whose name is Wisa käa. To him they attribute all the good things of this world and the hope of life in the spirit world, over which the younger brother presides. The brothers are idealized as youths.

The gentile system prevailed, and marriage was outside of the gens. The name had an intimate connection with the gens, and children followed the gens of the father. The gentes to-day are:

  • Water
  • Tree
  • Berry
  • Thunder
  • Man
  • Bear
  • Elk
  • Turkey
  • Bald-eagle
  • Wolf
  • Fox


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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