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Who are the Wichita People?

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  • Written By: Toby Tate
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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The Wichita people are Native Americans who once occupied areas in central Kansas, as well as parts of Oklahoma and Texas, and are closely related to the Pawnee. Since the tribe practiced tattooing, the people were also known by the French as Pawnee Picts. The Wichita people were mainly farmers that cultivated corn, pumpkins, and tobacco, which was used for bartering with neighbors; the tribe was known to hunt American bison, as well.

Generally, the Wichita people lived in an area known as Quivira, which was visited by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1541. Quivira is thought by many historians to be an area located near Great Bend, Kansas. Their language belongs to the Caddoan branch of the Hokan-Siouan.

The Wichita people lived in tipis when traveling and built permanent, conical-shaped grass dwellings about 40 to 50 feet (about 12.2 to 15.2 meters) in diameter that resembled haystacks. This tribe practiced a dance for agricultural fertility and in the late 19th century adopted the Ghost Dance, a ritual lasting five successive days. The Ghost Dance was part of a religion that prophesied the peaceful end of the westward expansion of whites and a return of the land to the Native Americans.

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In 1765, the Wichita people were forced southward by hostile northern and eastern Native American tribes, and built a village on the north fork of the Red River in Oklahoma. A severe smallpox epidemic eventually forced them to abandon the village and move to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. During the American Civil War, the tribe again fled to the site that became known as Wichita, Kansas. In 1872, the Wichita people ceded all lands to the United States (US) and were later settled on a reservation in Western Oklahoma, which was later dissolved. By 1990, there were more than 1,200 Wichita people in the US, concentrated mostly in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas.

By 2010, the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes registered more than 1,900 members with more than half living in the state of Oklahoma. They are governed by the Wichita Tribal Council, which is composed of enrolled members 18 years of age and older. Tribal membership is restricted to those possessing at least one-eighth Wichita blood in their heritage.

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chrisinbama
Post 5

@christym: The Sioux Indians were known for their long headdresses but the Wichitas didn’t wear them at all. The men usually cut their hair in a Mohawk style or they would shave their heads and leave a scalplock, which is a long lock of hair on top of their heads.

The women usually kept their hair long. They usually wore it in a bun or braided. The Wichita had tribal tattoos on their faces.

Today, some of the Wichita still wear the moccasins or buckskin dresses. For the most part, they dress just like anyone else.

googie98
Post 4

@christym: The Wichita men wore breechcloths, often with a pair of leather leggings to help protect their legs. The women wore skirts that wrapped around and poncho tops that were made of deerskin and woven fiber.

The men and the women both wore moccasins and earrings. The men generally didn’t wear shirts. In the cold months, the men and the women wore buffalo robes.

christym
Post 3

What was their typical dress back then?

cmsmith10
Post 2

@wesley91: Today, the Wichita people speak primarily English. Some of the elders, however, choose to speak their native Wichita language. There are very few people that speak Wichita now but many of the younger generations are working hard to learn their native language.

To give you as example of the Wichita language, to give a friendly greeting you would say “aah” which is pronounced just as it is read.

wesley91
Post 1

What language do the Wichita people speak?

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