Kiowa: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Total population
Regions with significant populations
United States (Oklahoma)

English, Kiowa


Christianity and Native American Church

Related ethnic groups

Linguistic affiliation with Tanoan speakers

J.T. Goombi, former Kiowa tribal chairman and first vice-president of the National Congress of American Indians

The Kiowa (pronounced /ˈkaɪ.ɵwə/) are a nation of American Indians who migrated from what now is Canada to their present location in Southwestern Oklahoma. Today the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is federally recognized, with approximately 14,000 members. Kiowa refer to themselves as Kgoy-goo [kaw-eh-goo [pronounced] or 'koy-goo' [short]} meaning, "the principal people", in their tribal language.

The word "Kiowa" originated after their migration through what the Kiowa refer to as "The Mountains of the Kiowa." This location is in the present eastern edge of Glacier National Park, Montana, just below the Canadian border. The mountain pass they came through was populated heavily by grizzly bear and Blackfoot people. The Blackfoot word for "grizzly bear" is "Kgyi-yo." Kgyi-yo was corrupted in English as the root translation for the word Kiow-a. Today, Kiowa, Montana is located on the very spot where ancient Kiowa passed through the mountains during their southward migration.

Other tribes who encountered the Kiowa used sign language to describe them, by holding two straight fingers near the lower outside edge of the eye and moving these straight fingers back past the ear. This corresponded to the ancient Kiowa hairstyle, cut horizontally from the lower outside edge of the eyes to the back of their ears. This was a functional practice to keep their hair from getting tangled as an arrow was let loose from a bow string. George Catlin painted Kiowa warriors with this hairstyle.

The Kiowas are considered nomadic hunter-gatherers. They migrated with the buffalo because it was their main food source.

The sculptor of the Indian Head nickel, James Earle Fraser, is reported to have said that Chief Big Tree, Adoeette, from the Kiowa tribe, was one of his models for the U.S. coin that was minted from 1913 through 1938.[2]



Original Southern Plains territory of the Kiowa Nation

In the early spring of 1790, at the place that would become Las Vegas, New Mexico, a Kiowa party led by war leader, Guikate, made an offer of peace to a Comanche party while both were visiting the home of a mutual friend of both tribes. This led to a later meeting between Guikate and the head chief of the Nokoni Comanches. The two groups made an alliance to share the same hunting grounds and entered into a mutual defense pact. From that time on, the Comanches and Kiowa hunted, traveled, and made war together. An additional group, the Plains Apache (also called Kiowa-Apache), affiliated with the Kiowa at this time.

The Kiowa lived a typical Plains Indian lifestyle. Mostly nomadic, they survived on buffalo meat and gathered vegetables, lived in lodges, and depended on their horses for hunting, eating, and military uses. From their hunting grounds south of the Arkansas River, the Kiowa were notorious for long-distance raids as far west as the Grand Canyon region, south into Mexico, Central America, and north into Canada.

Big Tree, a Kiowa chief and warrior

Famous Kiowa leaders were Dohäsan (Tauhawsin), Over-Hanging Butte, alias Little Mountain, alias Little Bluff; Guipahgah (Old Chief Lonewolf), alias Guibayhawgu (Rescued From Wolves); sub-leaders Satanta and Satank. In 1871 Satanta and Big Tree were accused, arrested, transported, and confined at Fort Richardson, Texas, after being convicted by a "cowboy jury" in the Trial of Satanta and Big Tree in Jacksboro, Texas, for participating in the Warren Wagon Train Raid. In some documents Big Tree is translated as, Addo-etta (Big Tree).[1] During the transport to Fort Richardson, Satank was shot in an escape attempt by accompanying cavalry troops near Fort Sill, Indian Territory.


Indian Wars

After 1840 the Kiowas, with their former enemies the Cheyennes, as well as their allies the Comanches and the Apaches, fought and raided the Eastern natives moving into the Indian Territory. The United States military intervened and in the Treaty of Medicine Lodge of 1867, the Kiowa agreed to settle on a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. Some bands of Kiowas remained at large until 1875.

On August 6, 1901 Kiowa land in Oklahoma was opened for white settlement, effectively dissolving the contiguous reservation. While each Kiowa head of household was allotted 160 acres (320,000 m²), the only land remaining in Kiowa tribal ownership today is what was the scattered parcels of 'grass land', which had been leased to the white settlers for grazing before the reservation was opened for white settlement. Kiowa lands are now a tribal jurisdictional area.

Visual art, literature, and music

Donna Standing Steinberg, Kiowa-Wichita and Josephine Parker, Kiowa, with their beadwork

Kiowa artists are well known for a pictographic art form that now is referred to as Plains Indian Ledger Art and for its contribution to the development of contemporary Native American art. Traditionally, Kiowa women painted and beaded in geometric designs, while Kiowa men painted representational, narrative art. Early Kiowa ledger artists were those held in captivity by the U.S. Army at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida at the conclusion of the Red River War, which also is known as the Southern Plains Indian War.[3] Zotom was a prolific producer of this art and he chronicled his experiences before and after becoming a captive at the fort. Traditionally, the artist's media for their pictographic images were natural objects and animal skins, but for the Kiowa in captivity the lined pages of record-keeping books became a frequent substitute for the unavailable natural materials, thus the name "ledger art" came into use.

A pioneering Kiowa easel artist was Haungooah (Silverhorn) (1860-1940). He created over one thousand drawings and paintings using Western art media to describe Kiowa daily and ceremonial life at the turn of the century.[4]

Lone Wolf, Kiowa chief, about 1907

Following in Silver Horn's footsteps are the Kiowa Five, or, as they increasingly are known, the Kiowa Six. They are Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope, Lois Bougetah Smoky, and Monroe Tsatoke.[5] Coming from the area around Anadarko, Oklahoma, these artists studied at the University of Oklahoma. Lois Smoky left the group in 1927, but James Auchiah took her place in the group. The Kiowa Five gained international recognition as fine artists by exhibiting their work in the 1928 International Art Congress in Czechoslovakia.

Kiowa photographer Horace Poolaw (1906-1984) was one of the most prolific Native American photographers of his generation. He documented the Kiowa people living near his community in Mountain View, Oklahoma from the 1920s onward.

Well-known Kiowa painters of the later twentieth century include Bobby Hill (White Buffalo), Robert Redbird, Roland N. Whitehorse, and T. C. Cannon. The pictographic art of contemporary and traditional artist Sherman Chaddlesone has revived the ledger art form that was absent in most of the art of the Second Generation Modernists that had developed since Silver Horn and the Kiowa Five. Chaddlesone studied under Native American masters Allan Houser and Fritz Scholder and is considered a versatile and widely-respected artist.[6]

Richard Aitson, Vanessa Jennings – the granddaughter of Kiowa Five member Stephen Mopope – and Teri Greeves are all Kiowa artists who have gained international recognition for their traditional and contemporary beadwork.

Kiowa-Cherokee author N. Scott Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his novel House Made of Dawn. Other Kiowa authors include playwright Hanay Geiogamah, poet and filmmaker Gus Palmer, Jr., Alyce Sadongei, and Tocakut.

Kiowa music often is noted for its hymns that traditionally were accompanied by dance or played on the flute. Traditional performers include Cornel Pewewardy [7] and Phillip "Yogi" Bread. Contemporary Kiowa musicians include Kiowa-Comanche flutist Tom Mauchahty-Ware.

Notable Kiowa

Micah Wesley (Kiowa-Muscogee) artist and DJ
Richard Aitson (Kiowa-Kiowa Apache) bead artist and poet

See also


  1. ^ Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. 2008: page 19.
  2. ^ Robert R. Van Ryzin. "Which Indian Really Modeled?" Numismatic News, February 6, 1990
  3. ^ Southern Plains Indian war
  4. ^ Greene
  5. ^ About the Kiowa Five
  6. ^ Chaddlesone
  7. ^ Cornel Pewewardy


  • Boyd, Maurice (1983). Kiowa Voices: Myths, Legends and Folktales. Texas Christian University Press. ISBN 0-912646-76-4
  • Corwin, Hugh (1958). The Kiowa Indians, their history and life stories.
  • Greene, Candace S. Silver Horn: Master Illustrator of the Kiowas. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. ISBN 0-806133-07-4
  • Hoig, Stan (2000). The Kiowas and the Legend of Kicking Bird. Boulder: The University Press of Colorado. ISBN 0-87081-564-4
  • Mishkin, Bernard (1988). Rank and Warfare Among The Plains Indians. AMS Press. ISBN 0-404-62903-2
  • Richardson, Jane (1988). Law & Status Among the Kiowa Indians (American Ethnological Society Monographs; No 1). AMS Press. ISBN 0-404-62901-6
  • Nye, Colonel W.S. (1983). Carbine and Lance: The Story of Old Fort Sill. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-1856-3
  • Momaday, N. Scott (1977). The Way to Rainy Mountain. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-0436-2
  • Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Resource Center.
  • Viola, Herman (1998). Warrior Artists: Historic Cheyenne and Kiowa Indian Ledger Art Drawn By Making Medicine and Zotom. National Geographic Society. ISBN 0-7922-7370-2

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun




  1. The Kiowa people of North America, currently in Oklahoma.
  2. The Kiowa language of the Kiowa-Tanoan language family.



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