What Are the Religious Beliefs of the Kickapoo?


Quick Answer

The traditional Kickapoo believe in a supreme being who is also the creator of the world and is named Kisiihiat. Kisiihiat lives in the sky and is assisted by a number of spirit messengers or manitos who inhabit all objects, organisms, geographic features and natural phenomena. Kisiihiat has a son Wisaaka, the hero of Indian culture, who created the Indian world and taught the Kickapoo to build their houses, which are of special importance within their system of religious beliefs.

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Full Answer

The Kickapoo religion is based on animism, the belief that all objects and living organisms are endowed with a soul or spiritual essence. These beings include intangible natural phenomena such as wind, thunder and darkness as well as geographical features such as mountains, forests or streams. This gives rise to a great number of deities or supernatural beings who are capable of interacting in human affairs. The Kickapoo of Mexico practice the most traditional form of their religion while other groups deviate from it to an extent.

One branch of Kickapoo who live east of the Mississippi River have a slightly modified system of religious beliefs. They believe that all objects and living things are composed of a cosmic substance that gives them a special sanctity that warrants their devotion. Dogs are held in particularly high regard and are offered as sacrifices to the manitos. These Kickapoo worship a pair of divine brothers. The youngest brother, Wisa käa, is the culture hero. According to the sacred myth, Wisa käa was killed as a youth and now presides over the spirit realm. Through this brother come all good things in this world and hope in the afterlife.

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