Kitsai language

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Native to United States
Region previously west-central Oklahoma and eastern Texas
Extinct 1930s
  • Northern
    • Pawnee–Kitsai
      • Kitsai
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kii
Glottolog kits1249[1]
Linguasphere 64-BAB-a

The Kitsai (also Kichai) language is an extinct member of the Caddoan language family.[2] It was spoken in Oklahoma by the Kichai tribe and became extinct in the 1930s. It is thought to be most closely related to Pawnee.[3][4] The Kichai people today are enrolled in the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Wichita, Keechi), Waco and Tawakonie), headquartered in Anadarko, Oklahoma.


Kitsai is documented in the still mostly-unpublished field notes of anthropologist Alexander Lesser, of Hofstra University. Lesser discovered five speakers of Kitsai in 1928-9 – none of whom spoke English – but working through Wichita/English bilingual translators, he filled 41 notebooks with Kitsai material.[5]

Kai Kai was the last fluent speaker of Kitsai. She was born around 1849 and lived eight miles north of Anadarko. Kai Kai worked with Lesser to record vocabulary and oral history and prepare a grammar of the language.[6]

In the 1960s, Lesser shared his materials with Salvador Bucca of the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, and they published scholarly articles on Kitsai.[5]


Some Kitsai words include the following:[7]

  • Bear: Wari:ni
  • Corn: Kotay
  • Coyote: 'Taxko
  • Grass: A'tsi'u
  • Man: Wí:ta
  • Sweet potato: 'Ihts
  • White: Kaxtsnu
  • Wind: Ho'tonu
  • Woman: Tsakwákt


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Kitsai". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Sturtevant and Fogelson, 616
  3. ^ Sturtevant and Fogelson, 68
  4. ^ "Kitsai: an extinct language of USA." Ethnologue. 2005 (retrieved 3 May 2010)
  5. ^ a b Bucca, Salvador and Alexander Lesser. "Kitsai Phonology and Morphophonemics." The University of Chicago Press, 1969: 7
  6. ^ "Science: Last of the Kitsai." Time Magazine. 27 June 1932 (retrieved 3 May 2010)
  7. ^ "Kitsai and Caddoan Word Set." Native Languages. (retrieved 3 May 2010)


  • Sturtevant, William C., general editor, and Raymond D. Fogelson, volume editor. Handbook of North American Indians: Southeast. Volume 14. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004. ISBN 0-16-072300-0.

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