Kikapu - History and Cultural Relations



Historically, the Kikapu can be characterized as a highly mobile group that traveled within their territories in the United States. Owing to the arrival of White settlers into these territories, the Kikapu were displaced and began migrating south toward Mexico. To keep their territories and culture, the Kikapu strongly resisted the incursion of settlers. Owing to their strong loyalty to their traditional culture, the Kikapu were able to retain their internal cohesion in spite of two centuries of wars with the Whites.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, a small group of Kikapu asked the Mexican government for permission to settle in Mexico. The government agreed, in exchange for Kikapu assistance in the Mexican army's efforts to subjugate other indigenous groups. It is important to note that in the formal agreement the Kikapu negotiated with the Mexican government, they stipulated that they be allowed to preserve their culture.

In 1912 another group of Kikapu from Oklahoma and Texas/Coahuila migrated to Sonora, Mexico. In 1920 a major portion of this same group returned to Oklahoma, however, when the problems that initially prompted the migration were resolved. In the 1950s the Kikapu who had settled in Coahuila began to migrate throughout the United States, finding work as itinerant farm workers during part of the spring and the entire summer season; for the remainder of the year, they return to Mexico and involve themselves in their cultural traditions. These temporary migrations to the United States, a pattern that still persists, began because of the droughts that plagued the region that the Kikapu occupied in the 1940s and 1950s and the ease of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to find work. Even though they received land near Eagle Pass, Texas, from the U.S. government, the Kikapu prefer to live in Mexico because in Texas they are physically and socially separated from Mexican society.


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