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Native Languages of the Americas:
Kickapoo Legends and Traditional Stories

This is our collection of Kickapoo folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our Native American folktales section by tribe to make them easier to locate; however, variants on the same legend are often told by American Indians from different tribes, especially if those tribes are kinfolk or neighbors to each other. In particular, though these legends come from the Kickapoo tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Meskwaki and Menominee are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Kickapoo legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Kickapoo Mythological Figures

Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Kickapoo mythology.

Wiza'ka'a (also spelled Wisaka and other ways.) Wiza'ka'a is the benevolent culture hero of the Kickapoo tribe (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.) His name is pronounced similar to wee-zah-kah-ah. Wiza'ka'a is the same character as the Cree Wesakaychak and shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki Glooscap and Anishinabe Nanabozho; many of the same stories are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.

Kehcimaneto (also spelled Kechi Manito and several other ways.) This means "Great Spirit" in the Kickapoo language, and is the Kickapoo name for the Creator (God.) Kehcimaneto is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in Kickapoo folklore. The name is pronounced similar to keh-chee-muh-neh-toh.

Thunder Beings (Nenemehkia): Powerful storm spirits that live in the sky and cause thunder and lightning. Although they are associated with birds, particularly in artwork, Kickapoo Thunder Beings are described as having the form of human elders in most legends. They are considered benevolent spirits who bring the rain and protect people from monsters.

Great Serpents (Manetoa): Giant water serpents of Kickapoo mythology, which lurk in rivers and lakes, hypnotize people with their gaze, and drown them. The Thunder Beings are the sworn enemies of the Great Serpents, and can be called upon to protect people from them.

Paissa (also spelled Piesiihia): Magical little people of the forest, similar to European gnomes or fairies. In most Kickapoo tales, the Little People are portrayed as mischievous but generally benign nature spirits, who may play tricks on people but are not dangerous.

Kickapoo Indian Folklore

*Wiza'ka'a and the Buzzard:
    Kickapoo legend about the time Wisaka fell from the sky.

Recommended Books on Kickapoo Mythology

Kickapoo Tales:
    Collection of Kickapoo legends and traditional stories.
The First Fire:
    Anthology of stories from the Kickapoo, Cherokee, Kiowa, and Tigua tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Kickapoo religion and expressive traditions
 Kickapoo pow-wow
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American religions
 Indian tribes of Wisconsin
 Eastern Woodland Indians
 Algonquian Indians
 Kickapoo culture
 Indian culture



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