Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma

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The Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma is one of three federally recognized Kickapoo tribes in the United States. There is a fourth in Mexico.

Official Tribal Name: Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma

Address:  P.O. Box 70 McLoud, OK 74851
Phone: 405-964-7018
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Official Website: kickapootribeofoklahoma.com

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

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Region: Eastern Woodland 

State(s) Today: Oklahoma. Other Kickapoo tribes live on reservations in Kansas, Texas, Illinois, and northern Mexico.

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Reservation: Kickapoo Reservation/Sac and Fox Nation (KS-NE) joint use area

 
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Tribal Headquarters:  McLoud, OK
Time Zone:  Central

Population at Contact:

Original numbers of the Kickapoo have been placed at around 4,000 collectively. In 1684 French traders estimated that there were about 2,000 Kickapoos. 

Registered Population Today:

There were 2,522 enrolled Oklahoma Kickapoo in 2003.  

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Charter:  The Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma was organized under the Indian Welfare Act of 1936.
Name of Governing Body: Business Committee 
Number of Council members:  5, including executive officers
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Bands, Gens, and Clans

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The Kickapoo were allies with the French, but by the time of the American Revolution they favored the British. 

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During the 1650s the Kickapoo were invaded by tribes who had moved into the Great Lakes Region in search of beaver to trade with the French. The most fearsome of these was the Iroquois nation. Their attack forced the Kickapoo to leave their traditional homeland and travel west to the Mississippi River in south western Wisconsin.

Here, however, they were to encounter the even more fearsome Dakota. Tribal fighting erupted along the Mississippi. The Kickapoo also discovered, to their dismay, that their crops would not grow nearly as well in this new place. Hunting was to take precedence as their main source of sustenance. But before long the area was hunted out. The resulting lack of food, coupled with the introduction of European diseases, made this an unhappy time for the Kickapoo.

Despite this misery the Kickapoo had not yet met the white man. Their first encounter with Europeans didn’t happen until 1665 when they were first encountered by French trappers. The Frenchmen found the Kickapoo to be aloof and wary of the strange newcomers. Neither were they interested in the white man’s religion.

One French trader, however, was able to gain the confidence of the Kickapoo. His name was Nicolas Perrot. Perrot was allowed to establish a trading post on the Mississippi, not far from the Kickapoo village. Mainly due to this friendship the Kickapoo joined an intertribal alliance with the French against the Iroquois League of Nations in 1687. This war was to be fought out over the next 14 years, to end in the defeat of the Iroquois.

The alliance with the French was soon broken when the Europeans tried to stop their native allies from attacking their traditional enemies who were also French trading partners. This resulted in the First Fox War, in which the Kickapoo played a prominent part. After three years of bitter fighting the Kickapoo finally agreed to peace terms.

During the mid 1750’s the Kickapoo left the Wisconsin area 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,however, were still extremely wary of all contact with the whites and would generally only trade with them through the intermediary of their neighboring tribes.

During this time the Kickapoo separated into two separate bands. The Prairie Band lived in Northern Illinois and were allied with the Sauk and Fox. To the south the Vermillion band were friendly with the Illinois. The Prairie Band, however, were hostile to the Illinois.

During the American Revolution the Kickapoo tried to remain neutral. By the mid 1870’s, however, they were engaging on an increasing number of raids against the Americans. The Kickapoo were prominent in Little Turtle’s War, which began in 1790. After the capture of many of their women and children in 1792, however, they withdrew from the tribal alliance.

In 1795 they signed the Treaty of Fort Greenville, by which they ceded all of their territory in Ohio. Further treaties in the early 1800s moved the Kickapoo west of the Mississippi, to the territory of Missouri. But they were not moved easily. Lacking cohesion and with no strong leadership, individual groups rebelled, only to feel the force of the American Government.

It took until 1834 for the Army to move all of the Kickapoo to their new home in Missouri. But problems with white squatters arose in Missouri. The Kickapoo were moved on to Kansas, and in the 1880s were allotted some territory in Oklahoma. This is where the majority of Kickapoo live today.

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