Kickapoo - Orientation

Identification. The name "Kickapoo" no longer has any evident meaning to the Kickapoo people other than that is how they refer to themselves. The variety of the other names by which they are known, however, demonstrates the extent of their contacts with other groups, ranging from the Great Lakes region to Mexico. These far-reaching migrations were probably responsible for an earlier translation that indicated that the term Kiwikapawa meant "he moves about, standing here, now there," today known to be linguistically impossible.

Location. Because of their nomadic nature, the Kickapoo cannot be assigned to a specific geographic area. Aboriginally, they ranged throughout the southern Great Lakes Region, eventually being pushed west and south in the wake of European contact. Today they comprise three groups living respectively near Horton, Kansas; McCloud, Oklahoma; and Melchor Muzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico. Many members of the last group have dual residency near Eagle Pass, Texas, and continue a migratory life-style that takes them throughout Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota as agricultural workers.

Demography. Owing to the Kickapoo's migratory adaptation and their tendency to disperse and recombine in Different groups, accurate population figures have always been difficult to obtain. It has been estimated that they numbered 2,000 in 1650. This population was probably split into at least three bands. At present, all three groups are roughly equal in population with between 650 and 750 members each.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Kickapoo language is of the Algonkian family. It is most closely related to Sauk and Fox and is also similar to other central Algonkian languages such as Shawnee, Potawatomi, Menominee, and Ojibwa. Virtually all Kickapoo in Mexico and Oklahoma, and a significant number in Kansas, retain the aboriginal language, although there are slight dialectical variations to be found among the three groups.

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