Quapaw language

Quapaw, or Arkansas, is a Siouan language of the Quapaw people, originally from a region in present-day Arkansas. It is now spoken in Oklahoma.

Arkansas, O-gah-pah
Native toUnited States
RegionOklahoma, Arkansas
Ethnicity160 Quapaw (2000 census)[1]
Native speakers
1 (2019)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3qua
Map showing the distribution of Oklahoma Indian Languages

It is similar to the other Dhegihan languages: Kansa, Omaha, Osage and Ponca.

Written documentation

The Quapaw language is well-documented in field notes and publications from many individuals including by George Izard in 1827, by Lewis F. Hadly in 1882, from 19th-century linguist James Owen Dorsey, in 1940 by Frank T. Siebert, and, in the 1970s by linguist Robert Rankin.[4]

The Quapaw language does not conform well to English language phonetics, and a writing system for the language has not been formally adopted. All of the existing source material on the language utilizes different writing systems, making reading and understanding the language difficult for the novice learner. To address this issue, an online dictionary of the Quapaw language is being compiled which incorporates all of the existing source material known to exist into one document using a version of the International Phonetic Alphabet which has been adapted for Siouan languages.[5]



Bilabial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p pː t tː k kː ʔ
voiced b d
Fricative voiceless s ʃ x h
glottalized ʃʼ
voiced z ʒ
Nasal m n
Approximant w


Front Back
Close i ĩ
Mid e
Close-mid o õ
Open a ã



Ardina Moore teaches Quapaw language classes through the tribe.[7] As of 2012, Quapaw language lessons are available online or by DVD.[7]

An online audio lexicon of the Quapaw language is available on the tribal website to assist language learners.[8] The lexicon incorporates audio of first language speakers who were born between 1870 and 1918.

The 2nd Annual Dhegiha Gathering in 2012 brought Quapaw, Osage, Kaw, Ponca, and Omaha speakers together to share best practices in language revitalization.[9] A Quapaw Tribal Youth Language and Cultural Preservation Camp teaches the language to children, and the Quapaw Tribal Museum offers classes for adults.[10]


  1. https://www.ethnologue.com/language/QUA
  2. https://www.hcn.org/articles/indigenous-affairs-the-u-s-has-spent-more-money-erasing-native-languages-than-saving-them
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Quapaw". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. "Historical written works on the Quapaw Language". www.quapawtribalancestry.com. Retrieved Apr 3, 2019.
  5. "Quapaw Dictionary". www.quapawtribalancestry.com. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  6. Rankin, Robert L. (1982). A Quapaw Vocabulary.
  7. "Quapaw Language." Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma. Retrieved 9 Dec 2013.
  8. "Quapaw Language- Quapaw Tribal Ancestry". www.quapawtribalancestry.com. Retrieved Apr 3, 2019.
  9. "Dhegiha Gathering Agenda, 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-06. Retrieved 2012-09-22.
  10. Okeson, Sarah (July 22, 2015). "Quapaw Tribe working to pass on native language". Joplin Globe. Retrieved 2015-10-03.

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