Kansa Tribe

Kansa (Kaw) Native American Indian

This article contains interesting facts, pictures and information about the life of the Kansa Native American Indian Tribe aka the Kaw people of the Great Plains.

The Kansa Tribe aka Kaw
Summary and Definition: The Kansa tribe of farmers and hunters lived along the Kansas River, a tributary of the Missouri and extended from Kansas into Nebraska. They were a strong, proud, war-like people who fought with other tribes, the fur traders and white soldiers and settlers before signing a number of treaties which culminated in their forced removal to reservations.

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Facts about the Kansa Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Kansa Native American Indians, also known as the Kaw tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Kansa tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Kansa tribe with facts about their wars and history.

Picture of the Kansa Native Indian
The above picture depicts Meach-o-shín-gaw, meaning Little White Bear, who was a distinguished Kansa brave. It was painted by the famous artist George Catlin (1796-1872) at Fort Leavenworth in 1832. The proud young warrior wore striking vermillion red face paint and wore a highly ornate headband with a roach headdress. His finest jewelry was worn including numerous bead and shell necklaces together various ear piercings and earrings. The most decorative earring piece was made using long, cylindrical 'Hair Pipe' beads strung with smaller beads that extended to his chest as a necklace.   

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Kansa tribe?
The name "Kaw" or "Kansa" means, "People of the South Wind," and the state of Kansas takes its name from this famous tribe.  The Kansa people were closely related to the Omaha, Osage, Quapah and Ponca tribes.


Where did the Kansa tribe live?
The Kansa (Kaw) are people of the Great Plains Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map.  The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Kansa tribe.

  • The American Great Plains region mainly extended across states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota

  • Land: Grass covered prairies with streams and rivers

  • Climate: The climate was hot summers and cold winters

  • Animals: The  animals included the Bison (Buffalo), deer, cougars, elk, bear, beaver, porcupine, antelope, prairie dogs, eagles and wolves

  • Fish: Various fish including sturgeon, crayfish and mussels

  • Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn, beans, seeds and squash

Map showing Great Plains Native American Indian Tribes

What did the Kansa tribe live in?
The Kansa tribe lived in villages of thatched
Longhouses, farming in the close area. The hunted for buffalo on the Great Plains during the summer when they lived in the temporary shelters provided by Tepees.

What language did the Kansa tribe speak?
The Kansa tribe spoke in the Dhegihan dialect of the Siouan language, closely related linguistically to the Sioux and the Stoney tribe.

What food did the Kansa tribe eat?
The food that the Kansa tribe ate included crops of maize, beans and squash and fish caught in the rivers. In the summer the hunters provided a variety of meat, especially the buffalo.

What weapons did the Kansa use?
The weapons used by the Kansa tribe included bows and arrows, stone ball clubs, hatchet axes, spears, lances and knives. Painted  war shields were used on horseback as a means of defence.

What clothes did the Kansa tribe wear?
The men of the tribe wore a variety of clothes including a red or blue breechcloth with a belt, and deerskin leggings, and sometimes a blanket robe over the upper part of the body, often trimmed with fur. Buffalo hides were also worn as cloaks and moccasins were worn during the winter. The men of the Kansa tribe wore Roach headdresses  that were attached to a scalp-lock on their shaved heads and stood straight up from the head like a tuft or crest. Ornaments were made of beads, shells and metal. The 'Hair Pipe' beads were long, slim, hollow, cylindrical beads that were used as hair decorations, chokers and the famous breastplates that were worn by many of the tribes of the Great Plains. The women wore buckskin knee-length dresses or skirts, leggings and blanket cloaks. The dress of the women reached down to the knees and was tied at the waist by a belt. The two ends of the cloth met at the right thigh.

What was the religion and beliefs of the Kansa tribe?
The religion and beliefs of the Kansa tribe was based on their belief in the Great Spirit and Animism that encompassed the spiritual or religious idea that the universe and all natural objects animals, plants, trees, rivers, rocks, mountains etc. The Kansa religion involved vision quests and many different spirit beings, or wakan, who held different powers.

Kansa History: What happened to the Kansa tribe?
The following Kansa history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Kansa timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Kansa History Timeline

  • 1500's: Kansa Native Indians settle in Kansas

  • 1541: Francisco Vasquez de Coronado (1510-1554) explores Kansas

  • 1601:Juan de Onate makes contact with the Kansa tribe

  • 1670's: The French establish fur trading posts in the area

  • 1673: Jacques Marquette inscribed the name of the "Kanza" nation on his map

  • 1780: Conflicts arise with Iowa and Sac tribes

  • 1801: A devastating smallpox epidemic kills many people

  • 1802: They number of Kansa people considerably declines due to sickness and inter-tribal warfare

  • 1803: The Louisiana Purchase

  • 1804: Lewis and Clark expedition (1804 - 1806) attempted to make contact with the Kansa tribe, but the people were on a buffalo hunt

  • 1806: A grand council was held September 28, 1806 between Zebulon Pike and James Wilkinson and various chiefs of the Kansa, Pawnee and Osage Nations

  • 1813: Manuel Lisa (1772 -1820) established Ft. Lisa, the most important trading post on the Missouri River, controlling trade with the Otoe, Omaha, Pawnee, Missouria and other neighbouring Indians from 1813 to 1822

  • 1825: The tribe cede land in Missouri to the United States and move to a reservation in Kansas

  • 1830: The Indian Removal Act

  • 1832: The artist George Catlin visits the Kansa tribe

  • 1836: They joined with other tribes in more treaties with the U.S. Government

  • 1837: Second great Smallpox epidemic kills many Native American Indians

  • 1846: The Kansa were assigned a reservation at Council Grove on the Neosho River, Kansas

  • 1862: The Homestead Act allowed white settlers to move into Kansas and Nebraska

  • 1870's: The buffalos had been deliberately slaughtered by the whites to the point of extinction so ending the lifestyle of the Great Plains Native Indians

  • 1873: Removal to Indian Territory in northern Kay County, Oklahoma

  • 1887-1934: General Allotment Act (1887) began land allotment of Native Indian territory

  • 1902: The Kaw Allotment Act of 1902 legally obliterated the tribe until federal reorganization in 1959

  • The Kaw Nation SouthWind Casino near Newkirk was established

Kansa History Timeline


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way the Kansa people lived
  • The clothes worn by men and women
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Kansa would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Kansa
  • Interesting Homework resource for kids on the history of the Kansa Native American Indians

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Kansa Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Kansa nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Kansa tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids .


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