Kansa (American Indians Ready Reference)
The Kansa, or Kaw, tribe, along with the Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, and Ponca, form the Dhegiha branch of the Siouan language family. The Kansa language was most similar to the Osage tongue. A relatively small tribe, the Kansa people numbered about 1,500 in 1700; by 1905 they were reduced to around 200 people, of whom only about 90 were full-bloods. Their population has rebounded considerably since then.
Tribal Name and Origin
In the sixteenth century, the Kansas were living in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, at the confluence of the Missouri and Kaw (Kansas) rivers. The origin of the name Kansa is not clear, but it was probably first used by the Spanish and then by the French, as they came in contact with this group. When Juan de Oñate traveled northeast from what is now New Mexico in 1601, he encountered a group which he called the Escanseques, meaning “those who stir up trouble.” Indeed, the Kansa Nation developed a reputation for belligerence in subsequent centuries. Yet the word Escanjaques was spoken by these Indians themselves as they made a sign of peace with their hands on their breasts. In the late seventeenth century, Father Jacques Marquette and other French explorers were using the spellings “Kansa(s)” and “Kanse(s).” There is also a tradition that this root word designates “wind people” or “people of the south wind,” stressing their geographic location in the sixteenth century and...
(The entire section is 1138 words.)
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