PAULA MITCHELL MARKS, Editor
The Texas Kickapoo: Keepers of Tradition. By Bill Wright and E. John Gesick Jr. (El
Paso: Texas Western Press, 1996. Pp. xvi+197. Preface, foreword, historical
essay, illustrations, appendices, notes. ISBN o-87404-239-9. $45.oo, cloth.)
Bill Wright and E. John Gesick Jr.'s Texas Kickapoo is more than a simple coffee-
table book. Both of the authors have long been involved with Native Americans:
Gesick has workied with Kickapoo for almost a decade and this is Wright's second
pictorial essay of Texas Indians. The authors show how the Texas Kickapoo adapted
to a constantly changing environment while preserving their traditional heritage.
Gesick's historical essay explains how the Kickapoo migrated southwesterly
from the Great Lakes region, to South Texas, and finally to Nacimiento,
Coahuila, Mexico. Although the tribe encountered opposition along the way,
they continued to maintain their uniqueness and customs, refusing to assimilate
into the dominant culture. Ra61l Garza, chair of the Kickapoo Traditional
Council, says, "The number one thing is to never leave the tradition" (p. 96).
Even today, the Texas Kickapoo branch lives in traditional lodging and practices
a migratory lifestyle. The question facing the tribe today is, will migrant work
continue? The authors believe that with the youth obtaining more education,
and with increasing mechanization of agricultural work, migrant work will end.
When asked, "couldn't they do better?", Kickapoo Steve Salazar, replies, "Well,
probably they could, but they don't want to lose their culture" (p. 32).
Wright's photographs reinforce the theme. Many illustrate the traditional life-
ways of the Texas Kickapoo, while others show the people at work and at play.
Yet, while they maintain their heritage, the band has to interact with mainstream
Mexican and American culture. This worries some Kickapoo members. Daniel
Sanchez said of a Plains Indian exhibit at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody,
Wyoming, "here they have those things, just displaying so other people can see
what once was, but is no more. And that's a real sad feeling. The way I'm think-
ing is my tribe will be the same way" (p. o20).
The photographs are artistic and the essay informative. However, Gesick
should have incorporated the article, "The Deer in Kickapoo Religion," and the
appendix containing articles about Kickapoo religion, political structure, lan-
guage, and other information into the basic text. Yet this does not diminish the
importance or the beauty of the book.
Texas Tech University
GENE B. PREUSS
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed July 29, 2015.