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The Karankawa formerly dwelt upon the Texan coast, according to Sibley, upon an island or peninsula in the Bay of St. Bernard (Matagorda Bay). In 1804 this author, upon hearsay evidence, stated their number to be 500 men.56 In several places in the paper cited it is explicitly stated that the Karankawa spoke the Attakapa language; the Attakapa was a coast tribe living to the east of them. In 1884 Mr. Gatschet found a Tonkawe at Fort Griffin, Texas, who claimed to have formerly lived among the Karankawa. From him a vocabulary of twenty-five terms was obtained, which was all of the language he remembered.
The vocabulary is unsatisfactory, not only because of its
meagerness, but because most of the terms are unimportant for
comparison. Nevertheless, such as it is, it represents all of the
language that is extant. Judged by this vocabulary the language
seems to be distinct not only from the Attakapa but from all others.
Unsatisfactory as the linguistic evidence is, it appears to be safer
to class the language provisionally as a distinct family upon the
strength of it than to accept Sibley’s statement of its identity
with Attakapa, especially as we know nothing of the extent of his
information or whether indeed his statement was based upon a
personal knowledge of the language.
Derivation unknown. The name is pronounced with an explosive
initial sound, and Ad. F. Bandelier spells it Qq´uêres, Quéra,
Population.—According to the census of 1890 the total population of the villages of the family is 3,560, distributed as follows:
Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891
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