kickapoo juice (Paperback)
These Kickapoo accounts are stories and sketches from the life of a Kickapoo Indian, Ekon-es-kaka (Aurelio Valdez Garcia). The accounts are improvised, blending fiction and nonfiction. They are based on Ekon-es-kaka's spontaneous testimony, recorded in Boulder and Denver, Colorado; and on the road between there and Eagle Pass, Texas; and then over across the border into Coahuila, Mexico, where the traditional Kickapoo village, Nacimiento (or Naci), is located on the R o Sabina. Many Kickapoos still call this border area of Texas and Mexico their homeland. But how did the Kickapoos (a woodland tribe from the Old Northwest) end up in Coahuila? In the 1800's the Kickapoos began a series of adventures and forced migrations into northern Mexico from their ancestral homeland in the primeval forests of the Great Lakes. Their migrations came in response to unbridled aggression, violence, swindling and low-down persecution by American settlers and land grabbers, who were protected by the Long Knives. (The 'Long Knives' were the American armed forces, so named by the Kickapoos because of their bayonets.) The migrating Kickapoos still had to fight their way through Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and especially Texas, before they could set up a new home in Old Mexico. The Mexican government awarded the Kickapoos about 17,000 acres of land in northern Coahuila because the tribe's warriors protected the population from raids by Comanches, Apaches, Texans (cattle rustlers & rangers) and the Long Knives, who were selectively heedless of the international boundary. The geographical isolation of the Kickapoos in northern Coahuila allowed them to maintain both cultural and linguistic purity for a hundred years. It was only in the 1950's (when a debilitating drought hit northern Coahuila) that these Mexican Kickapoos were forced to enter the stream of "undocumented" migrant workers that surged north with the growing season and returned home just before the snow. Ironically, these Kickapoos were still not recognized as United States citizens when many of these accounts were recorded in the early 1980's. At that time, Newsweek magazine was glibly referring to the Mexican Kickapoos as "the tribe without a country." Ekon-es-kaka (Aurelio Valdez Garcia) grew up in Nacimiento and later entered the Kickapoo migrant farmworker generation, speaking Kickapoo initially, then Spanish, then English. He graduated from high school in Muzquiz, Coahuila, which was a unique and unprecedented event among his people at that time. He also attended college and university in Utah and Colorado. His father (who he refers to as the first lawyer among the Kickapoos of Nacimiento) forced Ekon-es-kaka to attend the Spanish-speaking high school in Muzquiz (the Mexican city nearest to the Kickapoo village in Nacimiento) when all the other Kickapoo boys his age were out hunting deer and wild turkey, and when Ekon-es-kaka himself still barely spoke Spanish. Ekon-es-kaka, however, ultimately learned to live in three parallel worlds: the traditional world of the Kickapoos in Nacimiento, the migrant farmworker world of the "undocumented" Mexican Kickapoos, and the neo-colonial world of the modern Kickapoos, partaking in the impossible American Dream. These stories and sketches draw on all three worlds.