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What is the Wichita Tribe?

By Kevin P. Hanson
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Wichita tribe is a group of American Indians indigenous to the part of the United States that has become northern Texas and southern Oklahoma. An influx of Europeans to these regions drove the Wichita tribe north to the state of Kansas, where the city of Wichita bears its name. The majority of Wichita people have since moved back to the state of Oklahoma.

Archaeologists have uncovered artifacts and other scientific data that show that the Wichita tribe relied on a blend of agriculture, fishing and hunting and gathering for their subsistence. The tribe members tended to build villages on the upper part of rivers so that they could keep an eye on their crops down below them in the floodplains. Some of the crops grown by the Wichita tribe included corn, squash, beans and sunflowers. The foods the tribe gathered from the surrounding land were walnuts, hackberries and plums. Remains uncovered during archaeological digs suggest that the Wichita tribe hunted bison, elk, deer and pronghorn antelope dog.

The Wichita tribe built tall, cone-shaped houses thatched with grass. When the men left the village to hunt for long stretches of time, they erected temporary shelters called tipis out of bison hide. Unlike some other Native American tribes of the era, the Wichita were not prone to migration. They traditionally used tipis only for transitory purposes.

Men in the Wichita tribe tended to wear breechcloths, which are long, rectangular swaths of tanned deer hide, cloth or an animal’s fur. Breechcloths are placed between the legs and folded over a belt, allowing the flaps to fall over the man’s front and back. The women normally wore skirts that wrapped around their body and poncho tops made from woven fiber and deer hide. Both men and women liked to adorn themselves with earrings, beads and moccasins.

The Wichita differed from some other American Indian tribes in that they did not put on long headdresses. Wichita men would typically wear a Mohawk-style haircut or would shave their heads, leaving scalplock, a lock of hair on the crown of the head. Warriors in the tribe often added some flair to their hairstyle with a colorful porcupine roach. The women in the Wichita tribe mainly let their hair grow long so they could braid it or arrange it into a bun. Tribal tattoos were also a part of the Wichita tribe’s culture, as was painting their faces for religious ceremonies and other meaningful events.

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Discussion Comments
By anon319552 — On Feb 13, 2013

Your information is so wide-ranging for natives. I suggest it be more specific. "The women in the Wichita tribe mainly let their hair grow long so they could braid it or arrange it into a bun." Most native women grow their hair out.

By christym — On Nov 07, 2010

The Wichita call themselves “Kitikitish” which means “raccoon eyelids” which they use to signify “tattooed eyelids”. The men considered it a custom to tattoo lines upon their eyelids. The women often tattooed lines on their chins and some of the older women tattooed designs on their breasts.

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