Kansa language

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Native to United States
Region Oklahoma
Ethnicity 1,700 Kaw (2007)[1]
Extinct early 1980s[1]
a dozen claim to know it (2007)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ksk
Linguist list
qlc Kansa-Osage
Glottolog kans1243[2]

Kansa is a Siouan language of the Dhegihan group once spoken by the Kaw people of Oklahoma. The last mother-tongue speaker, Walter Kekahbah, died in 1983.[3]

Scholarship and resources[edit]

Pioneering anthropologist and linguist James Owen Dorsey collected 604 Kansa words in the 1880s and also made about 25,000 entries in a Kansa-English dictionary which has never been published.[4] Dorsey also collected 24 myths, historical accounts, and personal letters from nine Kansa speakers.[5]

In 1974, Linguist Robert L. Rankin met Kekahbah, Ralph Pepper (d. 1982), and Maud McCauley Rowe (d. 1978), the last surviving native speakers of Kansa. Rankin made extensive recordings of all three, especially Rowe, and his work over the next 31 years documented the language and helped the Kaw Nation to develop language learning materials.[6]

Language revitalization[edit]

As of 2012, the Kaw Nation offers online language learning for Kansa second language speakers.[6]

The 2nd Annual Dhegiha Gathering in 2012 brought Kansa, Quapaw, Osage, Omaha and Ponca speakers together to share best practices in language revitalization.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Kansa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kansa". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Ranney, Dave. "Researchers try to preserve Indian languages." , accessed 8 Apr 2011
  4. ^ Unrau, William E. The Kansa Indians: A History of the Wind People, 1673-1873. Norman: U of OK Press, 1971, p. 12
  5. ^ Kaanze Weyaje: Kanza Reader. Kanza Language Project, Kaw City, OK: Kaw Nation, 2010, p. xiii
  6. ^ a b Ranney, Dave. “Researchers try to preserve Indian languages.”, accessed 12 Apr 2011
  7. ^ "Dhegiha Gathering Agenda, 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-09-22. 

External links[edit]