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marker is mounted on the south wall of an apartment building which
is located on the east side of South Street in the 800 block, just
north of Madison Street. The text of the marker reads as follows:
"KICKAPOO INDIAN VILLAGE
FROM APPROXIMATELY 1812 TO 1832 A KICKAPOO INDIAN VILLAGE OCCUPIED
THE SITE BOUNDED ON THE NORTH BY MADISON, WEST BY CAMPBELL,
SOUTH BY GRAND AND EAST BY JEFFERSON. 100 WIGWAMS CLUSTERED
AROUND A SPRING FORMERLY SITUATED 250 FEET SOUTHWEST OF THIS
POINT. THE INDIANS ARE BELIEVED TO HAVE PLANTED ON THIS SITE
THE FIRST ORCHARD OF THE INDIAN PEACH.
SPRINGFIELD UNIVERSITY CLUB
The "approximately 1812" is puzzling. It was not until 1819 that
the American government, by the treaties of Edwardsville and Fort
Harrison, induced most of the Illinois and Indiana Kickapoo to move
to a tract in Missouri south of the Osage River. Of course, by 1812
the American settlers in Illinois and Indiana would have been happy
to be rid of the frequent Kickapoo raids, which featured scalping,
horse theft and burning. Also, the Kickapoo regularly went on hunting
expeditions in Missouri and Arkansas. Finally, the Spanish Louisiana
authorities had already established a "western band" of Kickapoo
on the Missouri River near St. Louis as early as 1765. The date
1832 (see marker text) is the year the American government moved
the Kickapoo out of Missouri.
There is a tradition that Springfield founder John Polk Campbell,
by amateur doctoring, cured a young Kickapoo of a "bilious fever."
It is said that, in gratitude, one or more Kickapoo guided Campbell
to a natural well, where the Kickapoo chief gave him use of the
land. Later this became the city of Springfield. Usually the Kickapoo
were very hostile toward the American frontier settlements. Any
deviation from collective tribal ownership was considered a grievous
sin against the Great Spirit, and it was not until the removal of
the Kickapoo that the government surveyors came into the area.
The term "wigwams" for the Kickapoo dwellings is misleading. These
dwellings were not the tepees (or "tipis") of the plains Indians
but were oblong lodges made of bent-over saplings and roofs of bark
or cattail-reed mats. The Kickapoo called these homes "wickiups."
The spring mentioned in the marker text has disappeared, probably
driven underground by tons and tons of dirt-and-rubble fill. The
area of the spring now features a cluster of apartment houses.
The "Indian peach" was a small, fuzzy-skinned cling peach, now
Our Kickapoo villagers seem to have belonged to one of the more
peaceable factions of this doughty Algonquin tribe, first met by
Europeans in what is now southern Wisconsin. These superb marksmen
and horsemen, on their own or as mercenaries for the Spaniards or
Mexicans, raided and fought whites and other Indians from Illinois
and Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico coastal area, to Texas and Mexico.
--Prepared by Harold Collins
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