Welcome to the Kaw Nation

Rankin Memorial

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Kaw tribal members paid tribute to the late linguist Dr. Robert Rankin, who revived the Kanza language, in a memorial at Washunga Cemetery in Newkirk on Saturday.

Rankin, who died on Feb. 25, recorded the last three native Kanza speakers, Maude McCauley Rowe, Walter Kekahbah and Ralph Pepper, and served as a consultant to the Kanza language project until his death. He helped publish the Kaw dictionary and the “Kanza Reader.”

“I met Dr. Rankin in the 1980s at the University Kansas at the end of the day,” recalled Curtis Kekahbah. “I asked him how to say certain words. He gave me his lexicon. I was so excited to read his words. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have these words. He was so generous with his time and his knowledge.”

Carol Clark recalled how Rankin would visit Rowe, her grandmother, every summer and record her speaking the language.

“Professor Rankin was part of our family. He was an implant in our yard every summer. Everyone would drop by and look. She’d giggle while talking. If you listen to those tapes, you’d hear her giggle,” she said.

Storm Brave remembered studying with Rankin and preparing for language competitions with him.

“I remember Dr. Rankin as a teacher and role model. He would teach and critique us until we were perfect,” she said.

Former Kanza Language Project Director Justin McBride recalled the close relationship he had with Rankin while working on the project from 2001 to 2010.

“I was very happy to know Dr. Rankin. He was sort of like a father figure. Even though he was really, really smart, he never made me feel dumb. He was such a devoted person to the Kaw people,” he said.

Kanza Language Project Director Dave Kaufman, who was a student of Rankin’s, recalled how Rankin pushed him towards the languages he studied and helped him in his work on Native languages.

“I hope all of us Siouanists can do half of what he did,” he said.

Rankin’s ashes were buried behind his memorial at the cemetery.

SouthWind Casino Braman construction underway

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Kaw Nation has begun construction on a new casino in Braman, Okla., near the closest exit on Interstate 35 to the Kansas border. The groundbreaking took place on Tuesday.

“This is very exciting for the Kaw Nation and it has been a long time coming. The opportunity on I-35 is amazing. We’re happy and looking forward to it. This is all about making money for the nation and the programs it supports,” said SouthWind Casino General Manager Pam Shaw.

Work is underway on a modular smoking casino, which will be complete in August. This will have 100 Class 2 video-game style games. Construction for a permanent smoke-free casino will begin this summer and take 90 days for construction, opening in the fall. This will have 275 games, table games and a café.

Shaw said that these two are currently expected to combine to create more than 100 jobs.

Afterwards, a larger casino with smoking allowed would be built in the same area with 500 games, table games and off-track betting. This would open in a couple years.

Shaw said that the smoke-free casino will remain for those who want to play in that environment.

Shaw emphasized the stages in which SouthWind Casino Braman will be built.

“Kaw Gaming Inc. is doing its due diligence building for the market. We’re building in phases. It’s definitely the right approach,” Shaw said.

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