The traditional language of the Kanza people is Kaánze Íe, or simply Kanza. Although it is a separate language, it is closely related to the languages of the Osage, Ponca, Omaha, and Quapaw tribes. Kanza is a Siouan language, and so it also has similarities in grammar and vocabulary with Ioway, Otoe-Missouria, the languages of the Sioux peoples, as well as more distant ties to Crow, Mandan, Hidatsa, Biloxi, and others.
During a long and very devastating period in the history of the tribe, usage of the language began to taper off dramatically. This trend continued on into the twentieth century, until only a handful of the fullboods in the 1970s could speak the language fluently. Today, all these elders are gone. The Kanza people today speak English as a first language, but many can still understand and use Kanza words and phrases.
The Kaw Nation is interested both in preserving the language and more importantly in reviving it. The Kanza Language Project is a special department of the tribal operation devoted to this task. For a wealth of information about Kanza and a wide range of user-friendly language resources, please visit WebKanza, the homepage of the Kanza Language Project.
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