They first appear on history as minor branch of ancient Oghuz Turks. They formed one of the five sections which Oghuz khan divided his subjects. After the fall of Pecheneg Khanate in early 10th century, the role of Kankali Turks became prominent. They were closely related to Kypchaks. They may have been a separate nomadic people earlier but the Turkic peoples in Pontic-Steppe become assimilated to each other by the 13th century.
Many Kankali warriors joined the Khwarezmid Empire in the 11th century. They suffered heavy losses from Genghis Khan in 1219-1223. For example, Kankalis in Bukhara who were higher than a wheel were all slain. Jochi subdued their relations who still lived along the land of Kyrghyz and Kipchak steppes in 1225. Khwarizmi Kankali remnants submitted to Great Khan Ögedei after the long resistance under Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu against his general Chormaqan and governor Chin-temur. After the Mongol conquest, the remaining Kankalis were absorbed into other Turks and Mongols. Some of them who served in the Yuan Dynasty became Kharchins.
- Constantine Porphyrogenitus, ca 950, De Administrando Imperio, http://faculty.washington.edu/dwaugh/rus/texts/constp.html
- Thomas T. Allsen, "Prelude to the western campaigns: Mongol military operations in the Volga- Ural region, 1217- 1237", Architum Eurasiae Medii Aevi, pp. 5-24
- Rashiduddin Fazlullah's Jamiʻuʼt-tawarikh by Rashīd al-Dīn Ṭabīb, translated and edited by Wheeler McIntosh Thackston.
- The Mongols - A History by Jeremiah Curtin.