Language: Arikara is a Caddoan language of the Great Plains, originally spoken in North and South
Dakota. It is a tone language
with complex polysynthetic morphology.
Today, the Arikara Indians share a reservation with the Mandan and
Hidatsa tribes. The Arikara language has been in decline
and is spoken today by only a few dozen elders in North Dakota, but some young people are working to keep their ancestral language alive.
Names: The origins of the tribal name Arikara are not entirely known. It was probably originally a place name or the
name of a particular band in the language of a neighboring tribe; it resembles Pawnee words for "male deer" and "horns."
Their own name for themselves is Sáhniš, which means "the people." In the past, they were
often known as the Ree Indians, and sometimes as the Pandani or Star-rah-he.
Alternate spellings of these names include Arikari, Arikaree, Arickaree, Aricara, Aricaree,
Arikkara, Ricara, Racari, Ricaree, Riccaree, Sanish, Sahnish, Sahnis, Tanish, Ris, Rus, Padani, and Starrahhe.