This essay examines the survival of the Kansa Indians prior to major contact with Euro-Americans, how Euro-American contact disrupted their survival, and how the Kansa responded to those disruptions. The research presented here focuses on the impact of wildlife depletion and Euro-American diseases leading up to the tribe's massive depopulation in the late nineteenth century. The most striking finding is that the cultural practices and religious customs with which the Kansa responded to these tremendous changes made matters worse for them. Their adherence to death customs, in particular, accelerated their depopulation when they endured back-to-back years of epidemics and starvation. This raises important questions about the specific influence of death customs and other practices used by Amerindian groups in response to depopulation following contact with Euro-Americans.
Benjamin Y. Dixon; Furthering Their Own Demise: How Kansa Indian Death Customs Accelerated Their Depopulation. Ethnohistory 1 July 2007; 54 (3): 473–508. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2007-004
Download citation file: