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

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.

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 Thomas Siebert, and, in the 1970s by linguist Robert Rankin.[3]

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.[4]



Siebert found 23 consonants in his limited research,[5] while Rankin found 26. When compared with Rankin, Siebert does not include /b/, /d/, or /ʔ/. He also puts the velar plosives and postalveolar fricatives together in a palatal column. The following chart uses Rankin's analysis.

Quapaw Consonants[6]
Bilabial Dental Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t k ʔ
voiced b d
Fricative voiceless s ʃ x h
glottalized ʃʼ
voiced z ʒ
Nasal m n
Approximant w


In addition to the vowels Rankin found in the below chart, Siebert included four long oral vowels //, //, //, and //.

Quapaw Vowels[6]
Front Central Back
Close i ĩ
Mid e o õ
Open a ã


Ardina Moore taught 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. ^ Quapaw language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Nagle, Rebecca (November 5, 2019). "The U.S. Has spent more money erasing Native languages than saving them". High Country News. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019.
  3. ^ "Historical written works on the Quapaw Language". Quapaw Tribal Ancestry. Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "Quapaw Dictionary". Quapaw Tribal Ancestry. Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  5. ^ Siebert, Frank T. (1989). "A Note on Quapaw". International Journal of American Linguistics. 55 (4): 471–476. doi:10.1086/466132. S2CID 143467538.
  6. ^ a b Rankin, Robert (1982). "A Quapaw Vocabulary". Kansas Working Papers in Linguistics. 7: 125–152. Archived from the original on December 26, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Quapaw Language". Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  8. ^ "Quapaw Language". Quapaw Tribal Ancestry. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  9. ^ "Dhegiha Gathering Agenda, 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 6, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
  10. ^ Okeson, Sarah (July 22, 2015). "Quapaw Tribe working to pass on native language". Joplin Globe. Retrieved October 3, 2015.

Further reading