Kickapoo - Settlements

In aboriginal and early historic times the Kickapoo were seminomadic and this remains true for the conservative Mexican group today. Aboriginally, the Kickapoo summer villages were semipermanent, being associated with nearby agricultural fields. After crops were planted, a few residents, usually elderly, remained to care for them while most of the population set out on communal hunts. In winter, the village residents broke into smaller band units and established temporary hunting camps. The semipermanent villages were associated with an area for dancing and games and a burial place. The houses ( wiikiaapi ) were constructed of elm bark or rush mats placed over a vertical framework of saplings. They were usually rectangular in shape with a covered, but open-sided extension on the front. The domed winter houses were oval in shape and covered with the same mats. The mats were readily transportable so that new camps could be constructed with ease.

Bark is no longer available, but the same construction techniques for both summer and winter houses are utilized in the Mexican village of Nacimiento today. A few of the traditional houses are still constructed by members of the Oklahoma Kickapoo, although this is rare and even rarer in Kansas. In Mexico, compounds are small and arranged in a close communal pattern. A typical compound consists of at least one wiikiaapi, a cook house, a menstrual hut ( nianotegaani ), and perhaps some facility for storage. Women build and own the houses, and several related women and their nuclear Families often share a compound. There may also be a Mexicanstyle house in the compound. In Oklahoma, settlement is more dispersed as the reservation land was allotted in 1894 and many of the Kickapoo people have since lost any right to land ownership. In Kansas, the pattern is generally that common to a rurally fixed reservation that is agriculturally oriented.

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