Michael J. Harris
Professor Charles Etheridge
12 December, 2012
Native American Borderlands/ Kickapoo Indians
For this resource essay we were to research a subject that is applicable to borderlands. Dr. Etheridge had suggested that I could utilize my first research subject, Native Americans on my second research project. He however, did suggest that I should narrow down my subject matter and focus on one particular aspect of, or tribe of Native Americans. Although there are never-ending volumes of subject matter dealing with the tribes of North American indigenous peoples, according to Mann in his text on library research, “Each method of searching is potentially applicable in any subject area . . . information that lies in a blind spot to any one method of searching, however, usually lies within the purview of one or more of the other means of inquiry” (262).
Having a definite interest in the diversity of the Native American Indians, their individual languages, their resilience, as well as their tribal customs and habitats, I have determined that one area most fascinating to me pertaining to Native Americans has always been linguistics. At the time of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas there was well over one thousand distinct tongues and dialects of native peoples, with perhaps as many as two hundred and fifty in the continental United States alone. The arrival of European culture was not kind to the indigenous cultures of the Americas. The population of the native civilizations of the current territory of the United States fell from about 20 million to the present level of less than 2 million. Beyond the shrinking size of the ethnic populations, the languages have also suffered due to the prevalence of English among those of Native American ancestry. Most Native American languages have ceased to exist, or are spoken only by older speakers, with whom the language will die in the coming decades. Statistics officially released in the 2000 census stated there are only eight Native American languages that have a significant amount of fluent speakers (over 7500). While most First Nation/ Native American languages are endangered, Navajo is the dominant tongue with well over 150,000 speakers
Presently, there are less than one hundred active, living Native American Languages in the United States, most have become extinct through the processes of assimilation since America’s inception and there are presently nine active language families that all indigenous languages are derived from. One of these families is Algic (Algonquin) of which many of the Native dialects are extinct. While researching the many paradigms of indigenous peoples and their relations to borderlands I found a very interesting tribe whose language is from the Algonquin family, the Kickapoo which is thought to be a corruption of a Shawnee word for "wanderers." Fiercely resistant to European cultures, the Kickapoo Indians never assimilated, preferring to continue relocating further south from their original Michigan-Wisconsin-Illinois homeland. Today, 3000 Kickapoo people live in three groups in the US--the Kickapoo tribes of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas--and one community in Coahuila, Mexico.
The Texas Kickapoo tribe which will become my future area of research; inhabit a parcel of god-forsaken, government-granted land just south of Eagle Pass, Texas. My investigative study will delve into the question of how these people have been dislocated and endangered, on the verge of extinction, without assimilation, and without their language ever being eliminated. While researching the Native American indigenous people and their borderland experiential relationships, once again, the MLA (Modern Language Association) website proved its value. The MLA Language Map is an interactive map, intended for use by students, teachers, and anyone interested in learning about the linguistic and cultural composition of the United States. The MLA website...
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