History, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2006


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts. Major: History. Under the Supervision of Professor Victoria Smith. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2006
Copyright 2006 Matthew Garrett.


The Kickapoos are an Algonquian tribe that historically resided in the western Great Lakes region. Their early interactions with Europeans required political adaptations to secure their territorial sovereignty and growth. From 1650 to 1763 French explorers, traders and Jesuits entrenched themselves in the Kickapoos homelands south of Lake Michigan. Kickapoo treatment of these intruders progressed from indifferent interaction to opposition, cooperation, and then detachment during the French and Indian War. As Spanish and later British agents likewise penetrated up the Mississippi and west of the Ohio, respectively, Kickapoos exploited the competing European nations that vied for their fidelity. While pledging hollow promises of loyalty to French, Spanish, and British authorities, the tribe violently raided and expelled uninvited agents, military parties, and traders. With the exception of a few disastrous raids that ravished the Kickapoos, the tribe successfully repelled European authorities and profited from their relationships. Kickapoos simultaneously overran smaller Wabash and Illinois River Valley tribes, extending their own territorial sovereignty. Though the Kickapoo diplomatic system benefited during the American Revolution, it declined and failed thereafter as the United States Army and infringing settlers flooded the Old Northwest. The Louisiana Purchase and then the War of 1812 definitively expelled the Kickapoos’ previous European benefactors. Surrounded by Euro-American settlers and subjugated by the U.S. army, in 1819 the Kickapoos submitted to multiple treaties stripping them of their land and relations with other nations. Facing the failure of the diplomatic system that once preserved their territorial dominance, Kickapoos splintered across the present-day American states of Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and Coahuila in Mexico.

Included in

History Commons