The Kansa


A Kansa

The Kansa (meaning "people of the south wind") were also known as the Kaw, a shorter version of the same word. They were a Siouan-speaking people, close relatives of the Osage, and also related to the Omaha, Ponca, and Quapaws. They are classified as Great Plains Indians because they hunted buffalo, but originally they farmed. After they got horses in the early 1700s, they became more nomadic.

It is believed these peoples once lived as one along the Ohio Valley in early times, then migrated west of the Mississippi onto the prairies. The Kansa settled along the river which bears their name, the Kansas River. Their territory stretched into modern Nebraska too.

Kansa Village
A Kansa village as seen by explorer Father DeSmet.

Little White Bear
Little White Bear, A Kansa


Many foreigners passed through their lands - from the Spanish, to the French, English, and Americans. An old Indian Trail became a main thoroughfare for settlers, the Santa Fe Trail. All who rode it recognized the Kaw from their distinctive hair style - they shaved the entire head except for one lock at the back.

A Kaw served as Vice-President under Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) - Charles Curtis. He was successful jockey, then became a lawyer, and ran for elected office.


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