Historians have noted that before the White colonizers arrived, the Kikapu inhabited what is presently known as the state of Wisconsin. In the middle of the seventeenth century, the Kikapu were located in what is now Michigan and Ohio, where they first encountered White settlers—the French. A short time later, White colonizers began moving southwest to Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and then Texas. Presently, the largest group of Kikapu resides on a reservation in Oklahoma, and another smaller group resides in Kansas.
After their arrival in Mexico in the nineteenth century, the Kikapu established their first community, in El Nacimiento, Coahuila. The small Kikapuan community in Texas serves as a stopover for those from Coahuila traveling to U.S. northern states. In 1912 the group of Kikapu that migrated to Sonora purchased land in Tamichopa, Sonora. The descendants of the original Kikapu group still inhabit Tamichopa, although they have lost the traditional Kikapu cultural features.
The Kikapu build two kinds of traditional seasonal houses, the winter house and the summer house, which serve a religious function. The winter house consists of an oval-shaped frame of cedar sticks almost completely covered with tule mats. The frame of the summer house is also of cedar sticks, but in a rectangular shape; the walls are made from reeds and the roof cover of tule mats. The summer house has an open-sided arbor of poles at the entrance.
A third traditional house is built to shelter women during their menstrual periods, when they are not allowed to remain in the seasonal houses. This house is very small; it is constructed of the same materials as the seasonal houses, but the workmanship is less elaborate.