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THE INTERPRETATION OF THE PAST IN ITS OWN CONTEXT.
According to the statements of a Kickapoo band now living in Mexico, their name in English translation means "Walking Indian." The Kickapoo is of Algonquian stock and their language is very similar to Sac (Sauk) and Meskwaki (Fox) and but slightly different from Shawnee. Several Miami Indians told one investigator that the Kickapoo were originally a part of the Shawnee group until they separated and then associated, to some degree, with the Miami. Chief Wah-bal-Io, a Fox Indian, related in 1820 that the Kickapoo were related to the Sauk and Fox by language and that the manners and customs of the three nations were alike.
Jean Nicolet referred to the Mascouten in 1634 and located them near what is thought to be the present town of Berlin, Wisconsin, in the Fox River Valley. About 1657 the Jesuits said that the Mascouten were a three days' journey by water from Green Bay, and in 1669 they were placed near the Miami Tribe. At this same time, the Kickapoo were living within 4 leagues of the Fox Indians and in the same general area. By 1670 the Jesuits had discovered that the Mascouten and the Miami were living together in a palisaded village which numbered 3,000 persons, of whom 400 were warriors. Thus it can be seen how the Mascouten obtained a working knowledge of the Miami language which is nearly the same as that of the Illini. Probably because of the close connection between the Mascouten and Miami at this time, confusion arose in one instance concerning the identity of a chief named Monso. He came to Lake Peoria in January of 1680 and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (or: René-Robert de La Salle) said that he was a Miami chief while Father Membre called him a Mascouten chief. La Salle also declared on August 22, 1682, that the Illini had previously forced the Miami north into the country of the Mascouten.
A 1670-1671 Jesuit map showed the Mascouten on the Fox River southwest of Lake Winnebago, and Father Allouez, who was at the Saint Jacques mission in August of 1672, said that there were fifty large lodges (longhouses) of Mascouten, thirty of Kickapoo, and numerous Miami as well as some Illini near his chapel. The following year, Marquette is said to have found the Mascouten, Kickapoo, and Miami at this same location. Near the southern tip of Lake Michigan in 1674 there were eight or nine lodges of Mascouten who were hunting in this area.13 Soon after this time, it would appear that the Mascouten were breaking up into various groups and living with their allies. In 1679 La Salle and Hennepin visited a group of Mascouten, Miami, and Wea near the portage from the St. Joseph to the Kankakee and in the same year there were Mascouten and Fox villages in the vicinity of Lake Winnebago or Green Bay.
|Longhouses of many Farming Indian Tribes. Hunters/wariors would used Wigwams when traveling.|
|Mascouten Indian Tribe Wigwams.|
|A portion of the Franquelin map of 1684, in French, showing the Rock River in Illinois as the "River of the Kickapoo."|
It seems reasonable to suppose that the Kickapoo and Mascouten used the Illinois Country more as a hunting area than as a permanent habitat since in 1703 these two tribes still had villages on the Fox River near De Pere, Wisconsin. Two years later they were along the Wisconsin River and numbered approximately 400 braves. Some of these Mascouten seem to have joined the Miami on the Wabash River before 1711 and the following year a group also joined the Fox at Detroit where they and the Fox were nearly all destroyed. There was also a settlement of Kickapoo on the mouth of the Maumee River and thirty Mascouten moved there, probably for defense against the angry French. Soon after 1712 the Kickapoo and Mascouten withdrew to the Illinois Country and again settled upon the Rock River where they continued their war with the Illini.
The White Robe is said to have been the principal chief of the Kickapoo in 1720 and their country, as well as that of the Mascouten, was between the Fox and the Illinois rivers. But on September 15, 1720, two Mascouten chiefs appeared at the St. Joseph River and asked permission to live near the Potawatomi, saying that they could no longer live in peace with the Fox. In May of the following year some Mascouten, together with a group of Kickapoo led by the White Robe, established a village on the St. Joseph. Their hunting grounds seem to have been down the Wabash River although these tribes wandered about from one region to another, as did most of the other neighboring tribes. Pierre Francois Vaudreuil, writing on October 11, 1723, declared that the Mascouten had been incorporated into the Fox tribe, indicating that the former had moved toward the Mississippi River again, and by October of 1728 both the Kickapoo and Mascouten were living just north of the Illini on the Mississippi River. The center of their activities was the Rock River where the Kickapoo chiefs Pechicamengoa and White Robe had established villages. During the year 1728, the Fox killed a few Kickapoo and a rupture occurred between these two tribes, enabling the French to deal severely with the Fox who were now largely without allies. The Kickapoo, greatly enraged, sprung upon the Fox, killed two of their great chiefs (Pemoussa and Chichippa), and made peace with the Illini. It appears that some of the Mascouten had also abandoned the Fox because by 1729 they were again allies of the Kickapoo and aiding the French, whom they had previously fought against.
Although they expressed a desire to leave the Wea and settle in the "meadow of the Maskoutins" in 1742, the Kickapoo remained at Ouiatanon and two years later the French again attempted to settle them on the Ohio River. By 1746 they finally agreed to move to the projected fort on the Ohio River, but no evidence has been found which indicates that they actually moved there. As the French became more interested in these tribes, mention is made of their chiefs and in 1746 several are identified. Among the Mascouten were Le Temps Clair (Unclouded Weather); his brother, Pacanne (Pecan); La Noix (Walnut); Le Brave (Brave One); Mirraquoist; and La Mauvais Jambe (Bad Leg). The last two were war chiefs and La Mauvais Jambe was in charge of thirty warriors. Chiefs of the Kickapoo were Deaux Visages Plats (Two Flat Faces); Mainbas (Bad Hand); and Le Petit Bonheur (Little Good Luck).
Envoys from the Kickapoo and Mascouten visited the French at Montreal on April 24, 1748, but it is not stated where their villages were. Unless they were from the Wisconsin River, their homes were on the Wabash River since it is known that the Kickapoo settlements remained along this river for many years. The Wabash Kickapoo had established a village at Terre Haute, Indiana, but in 1752 the French called them back to Ouiatanon in order to make the Wea jealous and secure their return from the British controlled areas along the Ohio River. Other Kickapoo were allied to the Sauk and Fox who remained on the Wisconsin River and made raids upon the Illini. As a result of the French and Indian War, the British assumed control of Post Ouiatanon and enumerated the Indians living in the surrounding territory. This census disclosed 180 Kickapoo and 90 Mascouten, all of whom were probably braves since the Europeans were mainly interested in the fighting strength of the Indians. Thomas Hutchins found the same number of Kickapoo and Mascouten at Ouiatanon in 1762 and said that his count was only of the warriors, thus confirming the earlier account. Yet all of the Mascouten did not live at Ouiatanon; a village of twenty families was discovered in 1763 up the Kankakee River sixty miles from the confluence of that river with the Des Plaines.
Even though the British were in control of the Wabash Country, the Kickapoo and Mascouten professed friendship for the French, who still retained control of Fort de Chartres in Illinois, and on June 26, 1764, a group of Kickapoo visited the commandant there. At this time the British estimated that the Kickapoo could muster 300 braves; the military authorities made no mention of the Mascouten. They were, however, still united with the Kickapoo and on June 8, 1765, George Croghan was captured by a mixed party of Kickapoo and Mascouten, who were hunting near the mouth of the Wabash River, and taken to Ouiatanon. The following year these tribes were observed living near Vincennes, Indiana, and by 1767 the Kickapoo had made peace with the Kaskaskia, probably because they too favored the French. Both the Kickapoo and Mascouten continued to kill stray Britishers and when Fort de Chartres hoisted the British Union Jack, a Kickapoo war party raided the village itself. Across the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri, the Spanish maintained cordial relations with the Kickapoo and Mascouten who traveled all the way from the Wabash River to receive presents.
At the time of the American Revolution there was a Mascouten village of fourteen lodges at the confluence of the Iroquois and Kankakee rivers; the Kickapoo resided mainly about Post Ouiatanon, but in later years William Henry Harrison (the future 9th U.S. President) recalled that some Kickapoo had moved north at this time to establish a village on the Vermilion River. These tribes sided with the British in the Revolution and remained near Vincennes. The Spanish learned that the Kickapoo had 300 warriors and had for their principal chief a man who had the same name as a previous Mascouten leader, Pacanne (Pecan); within a mile of their village was a Mascouten settlement which could raise 200 warriors and had for their principal chief El Tander. A delegation of Kickapoo, Mascouten, and Wea held a council with the British at Detroit on June 29, 1778, and declared falsely that they never traded with the Spanish at St. Louis. Although no Mascouten chiefs were listed, the Kickapoo war chiefs present at the conference were Egh-kee-too-wa and Miquetto; the village chiefs were Mahinamba and Pi-e-mash-kee-canny. However, when the Kickapoo observed the success of the Americans and received a message from George Rogers Clark - delivered by Captain Leonard Helm - they sued for peace.
After the American Revolution, the Mascouten and Kickapoo seem to have moved farther up the Wabash River and spread out into the Illinois Country. By 1781, reports place them south of Lake Michigan and Tanclel was said to be the principal Mascouten chief, a man who thoroughly hated the Illini. John Armstrong's map of 1790 calls the Desplaines River the "Kickapoo River" and when surveyors moved up the Kaskaskia River to its source, they were attacked by the Kickapoo who resided in the prairies of north-central Illinois. There also was a Kickapoo village, called "Kikapouguoi," on the Wabash River below the Vermilion River where Chief "Les Jambes Croches" (probably La Mauvais Jambe or Bad Leg) resided. Another of their main villages was in the prairie near the northern part of the Sangamon River. When Gen. Anthony Wayne called the Indians to a treaty council at Greenville, Ohio, on August 3, 1795, the Kickapoo were represented, but no location of their villages is given.
By 1800 the Prairie Band of the Kickapoo was living north and east of Springfield, Illinois, and in the area around Bloomington. This group hunted down the rivers and into southern Illinois where they sometimes killed the peaceful Kaskaskia. Since they received no annuity payments, these Kickapoo stole horses without fear because they had nothing to lose. As a result, these several hundred Kickapoo committed many depredations against the white settlers living in Illinois. Because there had been difficulty in defining and determining the boundaries of the land purchased from the Indians in 1795, several of the Wabash tribes were called to a council at Fort Wayne on June 7, 1803. The Kickapoo were represented by Nah-mah-to-hah (Standing) and Pas-she-we-hah (Cat) and after the Indians had talked the matter over among themselves, another council and treaty resulted on August 7 whereby the Indians agreed to a land cession in Illinois as well as Indiana and granted the government the right to erect stations along the road [now known as the Buffalo Trace] from Vincennes to Kaskaskia. At this second meeting, the Kickapoo were represented by the Eel River Miami.
A second large group of Kickapoo lived on the Vermilion River and were called the Vermilion Band. Although they generally kept to themselves, Michael Brouillette obtained a license to trade with them in 1804. Chief Pemwatome (The Swan that Cries) was an influential leader of these Kickapoo. Other little bands seem to have moved west to the Illinois River, and Zebulon Montgomery Pike (Pike was an American brigadier general and explorer for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado was renamed) announced in 1805 that some Kickapoo had a summer village on the little peninsula that was formed by the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. This western movement of the Kickapoo alarmed the officials and an attempt was made in 1807 to remove them to the Wabash River. Yet on December 9, 1809, the United States persuaded the Kickapoo to cede even these lands along the Vermilion River from Danville eastward. Their chiefs and principal braves who agreed to this cession were Joe Renard, Nemahson (Man on His Feet), Knoshania (Otter), Wakoah (Fox Hair), Nonoah (Child at the Breast), and Moquiah (Bear Skin).
As the war clouds gathered just prior to the War of 1812, the Kickapoo became restless and carried out raids into southern Illinois. Part of the tribe traveled east to join the Shawnee Prophet's band on the Wabash River, but many remained along the Sangamon River as late as November of 1810. Those who had joined the Prophet fought against the forces of Gen. Harrison on November 7, 1811, and Mengoatowa, a Kickapoo, served as one of the war chiefs. Harrison estimated that half of the total Kickapoo strength had aided the Prophet. Soon after this important battle of Tippecanoe the Kickapoo moved their villages from the Sangamon River to Lake Peoria where Pemwatome established his band of 100 braves in a village twenty-four miles north of Peoria. Little Deer's group of seventy settled across the lake from Gomo's Potawatomi village, and the third band of Kickapoo - without a chief - took up quarters on the Mackinaw River with some Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa making a little village of sixty braves. The rest of the Kickapoo remained with the Shawnee Prophet. In an effort to prevent further hostilities, Governor Ninan Edwards [Edwards was Governor of the Illinois Territory from 1809 to 1818] held a council with the Kickapoo and others at Cahokia on April 16, 1812, but that autumn the Kickapoo raided Peoria. Pemwatome explained the action of the Kickapoo by saying that the whites had killed one of their chiefs who was hunting near the Kaskaskia River.
Although the Mascouten is mentioned in 1812 as a separate tribe, there are no further reports about this little-known tribe and one observer declared to Thomas Jefferson in 1813 that they had been absorbed into the Kickapoo nation. Other scholars have agreed with this explanation, but more research among the surviving Kickapoo groups must be done before a definite answer can be given.
After the War of 1812, the Kickapoo were said to have 400 braves, but they were widely separated as a result of several American attacks that killed eighty of their warriors. Gomo, the Potawatomi chief declared to Thomas Forsyth at Peoria that the Kickapoo had asked to camp with him on Lake Peoria, but they dispersed instead to different sections of the country. Some had gone to live with the Sauk on Rock River where the British were distributing free gunpowder. Among this group was Pemwatome's band who had established a village on the Illinois River portion of the Pecatonica River. Little Deer was also encamped somewhere in Illinois although his location is not known; perhaps it was his group of 200 braves who were living on the Vermilion River. In the fall of 1814, some of the Kickapoo assembled at the mouth of Rock River and then established their winter hunting village on the Iowa River with a band of Fox. Another village of Kickapoo took up their winter quarters on the Kankakee with Neshkagenaymain (Bad Sturgeon), a Potawatomi chief.
When the Kickapoo of the Rock River area learned that the war was terminated with Great Britain, they informed the Americans that their party would leave the Rock and return to their villages in central Illinois. One of these villages was on Kickapoo Creek, near Lincoln, and the Old Kickapoo Town was near the headwaters of the Sangamon River. Those Kickapoo who had joined the Potawatomi on the Vermilion River remained there in 1815, and Ninan Edwards confidently informed the secretary of war that all of the Kickapoo were in Illinois. Yet many of the Kickapoo who had fought with the British were still living in Canada as late as October of 1815. However, two groups did return to their former haunts the following month. One band settled on the Embarrass River and the other on the Sangamon River, but in 1816 there were still 161 Kickapoo in Canada: forty-three men, sixty-seven women, and fifty-one children. Another little group of Kickapoo was found along the Illinois River with the Potawatomi in 1816, and there were several lodges near Skunk River, Iowa in addition to twenty lodges of Pemwatome's band who were living on the banks of the Mississippi River. Altogether, the Kickapoo nation consisted of 1600 persons of whom 440 belonged to the Vermilion Band.
On June 4, 1816, Kickapoo chiefs and braves gathered at Fort Harrison in Indiana to confirm the land cession of 1809. Representing the Kickapoo were Sheshepah (Little Duck); Kaanehkaka (Drunkard's Son); Skekonah (Stone); Mahquah or Moquiah (Bear); Penashee (Little Turkey) ; Mehtahkokeah (Big Tree) ; Keetahtey (Little Otter) ; Nepiseeah (Blackberry); Pehsquonatah (Blackberry Flower); and Tecumthena (Track in Prairie). Although it is not stated where the Kickapoo resided, those who signed the treaty were certainly from the Vermilion River. Later that year a delegation of the Kickapoo band who were living among the Potawatomi went to St. Louis, Missouri, where they witnessed "The Council of Three Fires" land cession on August 24. The Kickapoo chiefs who signed this treaty were Katasa, Tapema, Sakappee, Kenapoeso, Pawanaqua, Ancowa, Mackkattaoushick, and Shaquabee.
Since the Kickapoo continued to hunt through the lands along the Sangamon River, Gov. Edwards was determined to remove them at once. He claimed that these Kickapoo had occupied this section of Illinois only since about 1800 and had formerly lived on the Wabash River until smallpox forced them to leave these villages. After much effort, the Indian agents finally persuaded the Prairie Band of Kickapoo to come down to Edwardsville, on July 30, 1819, where they ceded their holdings to all of central Illinois as far west as the Illinois River. In return, the Kickapoo received a grant of land upon the Osage River and promised to go there immediately. Among the signers was Pemwatome, the celebrated chief. One month later the Vermilion Band of Kickapoo agreed to this same land cession and also agreed to leave Illinois immediately, but much trouble took place and some time passed before the Kickapoo were finally removed. When an attempt was made to gather them together for the long journey west, only Waw-pee-ko-ny-a (Blue Eyes) could be found - the remainder were hiding. Pemwatome (The Swan that Cries) and Pacanne (Pecan) quickly moved north, with about 200 of their followers, and established a village near the mouth of Rock River. Major Marston observed this group near Rock Island in November of 1820 and declared that Pemwatome was an old man while Pacanne was about forty years of age.
Many of the Kickapoo refused to leave Illinois in 1820, but between the years 1821 and 1822, some of them did cross the Mississippi River. Among those who remained was Little Duck who had his permanent village on the Wabash River one mile above the mouth of Pine Creek. His braves caused the Illinois settlers trouble as late as October of 1823. There was also a band of Kickapoo living near the Rock River and the Sauk allowed them to hunt on the Iowa River. The Potawatomi had also formed an alliance with the remaining Illinois Kickapoo who, it was said, numbered 600 persons. Charles Christopher Trowbridge, an explorer, learned in 1823-1824 that there were still Kickapoo living between Terre Haute and the Illinois River. These villages contained approximately 400 persons and in 1823-1824 the Kickapoo of the Wabash Valley wintered on the Kaskaskia, but during the next two years, some of them moved west to Missouri.54 A few Kickapoo were still living within the boundaries of Illinois in 1824: a group on the headwaters of the Little Wabash River and another on the Vermilion River. Of the latter group, Wagoa and Oquid were the chiefs.
Thomas Forsyth learned in May of 1825 that there was a Kickapoo village thirty or forty miles south of Rock Island and other informants reported that Macena's band was on the north fork of the Sangamon River, Pemwatome's on the Embarrass, and Little Thunder's and Kanakuk's (The Kickapoo Prophet) on the Mackinaw River. From 1825 to 1827 about 25 lodges of Kickapoo moved to Missouri and one group of thirty drew attention when it arrived at St. Louis on June 29, 1826. The destination of this party was the James Fork of the White River. On June 6, 1827, the Black Buffalo led his little family across the Mississippi River and headed for the Osage River reservation, but other small groups of Kickapoo remained in Illinois. The village on the Mississippi River below Rock River was still occupied in 1827 and Macena clung tenaciously to his hunting grounds on the Sangamon River. It was said in November of 1827 that fifty lodges were still in Illinois, but in the spring of 1828, several small parties of Kickapoo left their villages and moved west. Even Wagoa had gone to the White River by the year 1828. Of the prominent chiefs, only Kanakuk (The Kickapoo Prophet) remained at his village on the Mackinaw and he promised William Clark on May 25, 1828, that he would move out of Illinois by May of the following year. His little village numbered approximately 200 souls.
Those Kickapoo who resided near the Sauk of Rock River agreed with Black Hawk in 1829 and spoke against the white settlers. One Kickapoo band from the Mackinaw River migrated to the Rock River in May of 1830 and joined their friends there. This village of 100 warriors and twenty long-houses was just south of the Rock River's mouth. In October of that same year, the Vermilion Band was encamped near Chicago on their winter hunt. This was certainly the village ruled by Kanakuk. William Clark ordered this chief to leave the state in 1831, but Kanakuk replied to the messenger, Augustus Kennerly, on August 4 that "God has not told me to go on the other side of the Mississippi River, but to stay here and mind my Religion." Clark had told him to move out by October 1st at which time the corn and pumpkins would be harvested at his village on the Vermilion River. The other band of Kickapoo - who were living along the Mississippi - followed the Sauk into Iowa in the fall of 1831 for their winter hunt.
In the spring of 1832, some of the Kickapoo returned to Illinois from hunting lands west of the Mississippi River, and in April there were 100 lodges of Kickapoo and Sauk encamped at the point where the Lewistown road crossed the Rock River (near Prophetstown). Citizens of Pekin reported in May that there were 380 warriors assembled at the Kickapoo town on "Money Creek, within twenty-five miles of Bloomington," and some of these were Kickapoo. They remained in the vicinity of Mackinaw River and some joined Black Hawk's hostile band of Sauk and Fox. When his rebellious force was defeated by federal and state troops, one little group of Kickapoo fled to a Potawatomi village near Chicago only to be placed under arrest by the Indian agent there, Thomas J. V. Owen, and delivered to Fort Dearborn. This little band consisted of nine men, eleven women, and seventeen children.''
A federal official, on October 11, 1832, instructed the governor of Illinois that he might negotiate a treaty for the final removal of the Kickapoo, and Kanakuk (The Kickapoo Prophet) led his band of about 250 Kickapoo and 150 Potawatomi from the Vermilion River to Castor Hill (near St. Louis) where they signed a treaty with William Clark on October 24 that year. By the 31st, Clark informed the Illinois governor that all the Kickapoo had left his state except those who had been incarcerated by Owen at Fort Dearborn in September."
The Kickapoo reservation was four miles north of Fort Leavenworth. Kanakuk became associated with the Methodist missionaries and was licensed to preach. Others followed the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1836 it was stated that there were 470 Kickapoo living on the reservation. By 1865 there were 344 Kickapoo still in Kansas and an undetermined number living in Texas near the Mexican border. Shortly after this date, the Kickapoo in Texas migrated across the border and frequently made raids into the United States until Col. H. M. Atkinson removed them to their reservation in 1875.
|Kickapoos pushed from the Great Lakes into Mexico, then Texas and Oklahoma. The Suke Jimenez family in their longhouse on March 2, 1986.|
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
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