Kiowa (/, - , - /) people are a Native American tribe and an indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated southward from western Montana into the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in the 17th and 18th centuries, and finally into the Southern Plains by the early 19th century. In 1867, the Kiowa were moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma.
Today, they are federally recognized as Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma with headquarters in Carnegie, Oklahoma. As of 2011[update], there were 12,000 members. The Kiowa language (Cáuijògà), part of the Tanoan language family, is still spoken today.
Kiowa call themselves Ka'igwu, Cáuigù or Gaigwu, most given with the meaning "Principal People". The first part of the name is the element Kae-, Cáui- or Gai- which means the Kiowa themselves – it may derive from the word ka' (mother) or from ka-a (a type of spear with feathers along its length). The true origin is lost. Kae-kia means a Kiowa man; Kae-ma is a Kiowa woman. The second element -gua refers to "men or people", so the meaning of the two elements is "Kiowa people"; to express "Principal People" (sometimes "Chief People") or "genuine, real or true People" in Kiowa is to add the ending -hin.
Ancient names were Kútjàu or Kwu-da ("emerging" or "coming out rapidly") and Tep-da, relating to the tribal origin myth of a creator pulling people out of a hollow log until a pregnant woman got stuck. Later, they called themselves Kom-pa-bianta for "people with large tipi flaps", before they met Southern Plains tribes or before they met white men. Another explanation of their name "Kiowa" originated after their migration through what the Kiowa refer to as "The Mountains of the Kiowa" (Kaui-kope) in the present eastern edge of Glacier National Park, Montana, just south of the border with Canada.
The mountain pass they came through was populated heavily by grizzly bear Kgyi-yo and Blackfoot people. 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 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.
For a time, the Kiowa are thought to have shared land, mostly in present-day eastern Colorado, with the Arapaho. An Arapaho name for the Kiowa is "creek people", and the Arapaho word for "creek" is koh'owu', which when pronounced carefully has some resemblance to the current name "Kiowa". For example, the Kiowa are referred to as "creek people" in an oral narrative recited in 1993 by native Arapaho speaker Paul Moss. Thus, it is possible "Kiowa" may have come from a name by which the tribe was known among the Arapaho.
The Kiowa language is a member of the Kiowa-Tanoan language family. The relationship was first proposed by Smithsonian linguist John P. Harrington in 1910, and was definitively established in 1967. Parker McKenzie, born 1897, was a noted authority on the Kiowa language, learning English only when he began school. He worked with John P. Harrington on the Kiowa language. He went on to discuss the etymology of words and insights of how the Kiowa language changed to incorporate new items of material culture. McKenzie's letters are in the National Anthropological Archives on pronunciation and grammar of the Kiowa language.
Kiowa /ˈkaɪ.əwə/ or Cáuijògà / Cáuijò:gyà (″language of the Cáuigù (Kiowa)″) is a Tanoan language spoken by the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma in primarily Caddo, Kiowa, and Comanche counties. 
Additionally, Kiowa were one of the numerous nations across the US, Canada and Mexico that spoke Plains Sign Talk. Originally a trade language, it became a language within its own right that remained in use across North America.
The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is headquartered in Carnegie, Oklahoma. Their tribal jurisdictional area includes Caddo, Comanche, Cotton, Grady, Kiowa, Tillman, and Washita Counties. Enrollment in the tribe requires a minimum blood quantum of ¼ Kiowa descent.
The Kiowa Tribe issues its own vehicle tags. As of 2011[update], the tribe owns one smoke shop, two casinos, the Kiowa Red River Casino, Morningstar Steakhouse and Grill, Morningstar Buffet, The Winner's Circle restaurant in Devol, Oklahoma, and Kiowa Bingo near Carnegie, Oklahoma.
The Kiowa were patrilineal with a chiefdom living in semi-sedentary structures. They were hunters and gatherers, meaning they did not live in one area long enough to grow plants or crops, but did trade with sedentary tribes that grew crops. The Kiowas migrated with the American bison because it was their main food source along with an abundant supply of antelope, deer, wild berries, wild fruit, turkeys and other wild game. Dogs dragged travois and rawhide parfleche that contained camping goods for short moves that were for long periods of time. With the introduction of the horse, the Kiowa revolutionized their economy and when they arrived on the Plains they were a fully mounted warrior nation. The horses were acquired from Spanish rancherias south of the Rio Grande. The new Kiowa and Plains Apache homeland lay in the southwestern plains adjacent to the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado and western Kansas and the Red River drainage of the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma.
The Kiowa were a nomadic hunter-gatherer society which mostly relied directly upon food available from the surrounding wilderness. The food hunted and gathered by the Kiowa was largely identical to that of other plains Indians such as the Comanche. The most important food source for the Kiowa and all other great plains nations is the American bison or buffalo. Before the introduction of horses bison were hunted on foot and required the hunter to get as close as possible to their target before rushing quickly in and shooting it with arrows or lancing it. Occasionally the skins of wolves or coyotes were worn to hide their approach towards the bison herds. Hunting bison became far easier after the Kiowa acquired horses. Bison were hunted on horseback with bows and arrows, as well as long lances used to pierce the heart of the animals. Bison meat was eaten roasted, boiled, and dried. Dried meat was prepared into pemmican which was eaten while the people were on the move. Pemmican is made by grinding dried lean meat into a powder, then mixing a near equal weight of melted fat or tallow and sometimes berries; the pemmican was then shaped into bars and kept in pouches until ready to eat. Certain parts of the bison were sometimes eaten raw. Other animals hunted to supplement their main diet of bison included deer, elk, pronghorn, wild mustang, wild turkey, and bears. During times of scarce game, the Kiowa would eat small animals such as lizards, waterfowl, skunks, snakes, armadillos, and other animals that could be found and eaten. The Kiowa's horses, mules, and camp dogs were eaten during desperate situations when no other sources of food were available. Longhorn cattle and horses from American and Mexican ranches were also eaten during hard times.
Most of the hunting was done by men in Kiowa society. Women were responsible for gathering wild edibles such as berries, tubers, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and wild fruit but could choose to hunt if they wanted to. Important specific food gathered by the Kiowa included pecans, prickly pear, mulberries, persimmons, acorns, plums, and wild onions. Domesticated crops such as squash, maize, and pumpkin were acquired by means of trading with and raiding various Indian peoples living on the eastern edge of the great plains such as the Pawnee that grew crops in addition to hunting and gathering. Before the use of metal pots acquired through trade and raid meat and vegetables were boiled in a hole dug in the ground, filed with water, and lined with a thick layer of animal hides. Heated rocks kept under a fire were added and removed to the boiling hole until the water came to a boil.
The main form of shelter used by the Kiowa was the tipi or skin lodge. Tipis were made from bison hides shaped and sewn together in a conical shape. Wooden poles called lodge poles from 12–25 feet (3.7–7.6 m) in length are used as support for the lodge. Lodge poles are harvested from red juniper and the lodgepole pine. Tipis have at least one entrance flap as well as smoke flaps at the top, allowing the construction of a fire pit within. The floor of the tipi is lined with animal pelts and skins for warmth and comfort. The tipi is designed to be warm inside during the cold winter months and cool inside during the warm summer. Tipis are easily collapsed and can be raised in only minutes, making it an optimal structure for a nomadic people like the Kiowa and other great plains Indian nations. The poles of the tipi were used to construct a travois during times of travel. Hide paintings often adorn the outside and inside of the tipis, with special meanings attached to certain designs.
Before the introduction of the horse to North America, the Kiowa and other plains peoples used domestic dogs to carry and pull their belongings. Tipis and belongings as well as small children were carried with the use of travois, a frame structure utilizing the tipi poles and pulled by dogs and later horses. The introduction of the horse to Kiowa society revolutionized their way of life. Horses were acquired by raiding rancheros south of the Rio Grande into Mexico as well as from raiding other Indian peoples who already had horses such as the Navajo and the various Pueblo people. The horse allowed them to pull larger loads, hunt more game, hunt game easier, and travel longer and farther. The horse also transformed the Kiowa into powerful and skilled mounted warriors who performed long distance raids on their enemies. The Kiowa were considered among the finest horsemen in history along with other plains Indians such as the Comanche and Cheyenne. Horses became a vital part of the Kiowa economy and a man's wealth was measured primarily by size of his horse herd with particularly wealthy individuals having herds numbering in the hundreds. Horses became a much targeted object during raids, capturing and stealing horses from enemies was considered a great honor to Kiowa warriors and often served as a rite of passage for young warriors. Horses were adorned with body paint from the medicine man for ritual and spiritual purposes such as good fortune and protection during battle. Kiowa horses were often decorated with beaded masks (sometimes with bison horns attached to the sides) and feathers in their manes. In addition to horses, mules and donkeys were also used as means of transportation and wealth however they were not as esteemed.
The Kiowas had a well structured tribal government like most tribes on the Northern Plains. They had a yearly Sun Dance gathering and an elected head-chief who was considered to be a symbolic leader of the entire nation. There were warrior societies and religious societies that made up the Kiowa society. Kiowa government was democratic with the election of chiefs based on bravery and courage in battle as well as intelligence, generosity, experience, communication skills, and kindness to others. The ideal personality of the Kiowas was that of the young fearless warrior. The entire tribe was structured around this individual. The warrior was the ideal to which young men aspired. Because of these factors, the Kiowa was of utmost importance in the history of the Southern Plains.
The women gain prestige through the achievements of their husbands, sons, and fathers or through their own achievements in the arts. Kiowa women tanned, skin-sewed, quilled, painted geometric designs on parfleche and later beaded hides. The Kiowa women took care of the camp while the men were away. They gathered and prepared food for winter months and participated in events. Kiowa men lived in the families of their wives extended families in residence local groups (jōfàujōgáu or jōdáu) led by the jōfàujōqì, which merged to become a band (topadoga). These bands were led by a chief, the Topadok'i (′main chief′). The Kiowa had two political subdivisions (particularly with regard to their relationship with the Comanche):
As the pressure on Kiowa lands increased in the 1850s the regional divisions changed and a new regional grouping emerged:
After the death of the high chief Dohäsan in 1866 the Kiowa split politically in a peace fraction and a war fraction, the distinction between war-bands and peace-bands depended on their proximity to Fort Sill (Xóqáudáuhága – ′At Medicine Bluff′, lit. ′Rock Cliff Medicine At Soldiers Collective They Are′) and their degree of interaction.
During the Sun Dance, some bands had a special obligation which was traditionally defined:
The Kâtá had the traditional right (duty or task) to supply the Kiowa during the Sun Dance with enough bison meat and other means. This band was particularly wealthy in horses, tipis and other goods. The famous Principal Kiowa chiefs Dohäsan (Little Mountain) and Guipago (Lone Wolf) were members of this band.
The Kogui were responsible for conducting the war ceremonies during the Sun Dance. Many famous families and leaders because of their military exploits and bravery, like Ad-da-te (‘Islandman’), Satanta (White Bear), Kicking Bird and the war chiefs Big Bow (Zepko-ete) and Stumbling Bear (Set-imkia), and others belonged to this band.
The Kinep or Khe-ate were often called ‘Sun Dance Shields’ because during the dance, they observed police duties and ensured security. The chief Woman's Heart (Manyi-ten) belonged to this band.
The Semat were allowed to participate equally, but had no specific duties and obligations during the Sun Dance.
The Soy-hay-talpupé were often called Montalyui or Kó̱tályop / Kṓtályóp / Kṓtályôi (‘Black Boys’, Black Boy Band); they were also named after the Kiowa cultural hero Séndè / Sindi and therefore called Séndèiyòi (Séndè / Sainday's Children). To this band belonged the medicine man Maman-ti. Like the Semat, they had no specific duties or responsibilities.
Typical of all plains Indian people, the Kiowa were a warrior people who fought frequently with enemies both neighboring and far beyond their territory. The Kiowa were notable even among plains Indians for their long-distance raids, including raids far south into Mexico and north onto the northern plains. Almost all warfare took place while mounted on horses after the introduction of horses into Kiowa society. Enemies of the Kiowa include the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Navajo, Ute, and occasionally Lakota to the north and west of Kiowa territory. East of Kiowa territory they fought with the Pawnee, Osage, Kickapoo, Kaw, Caddo, Wichita, and Sac and Fox. To the south they fought with the Lipan Apache, Mescalero Apache, and Tonkawa. The Kiowa also came into conflict with Indian nations from the American south and east displaced to Indian Territory during the Indian Removal period including the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muskogee, and Chickasaw. Eastern tribes found that Indian Territory, the place they were sent, was already occupied by plains Indians, most notably the Kiowa and Comanche. The Cheyenne and Arapaho would later make peace with the Kiowa and form a powerful alliance with them, the Comanche, and the Plains Apache to fight invading settlers and U.S soldiers as well as Mexicans and the Mexican Army.
Like other plains Indians, the Kiowa had specific warrior societies. Young men who proved their bravery, skill, or displayed their worth in battle were often invited to one of the warrior societies. In addition to warfare, the societies worked to keep peace within the camps and tribe as a whole. There were six warrior societies among the Kiowa. The Po-Lanh-Yope (Little Rabbits) was for boys; all young Kiowa boys were enrolled and the group served mostly social and education purposes involving no violence or combat. The Adle-Tdow-Yope (Young Sheep), Tsain-Tanmo (Horse Headdresses), Tdien-Pei-Gah (Gourd Society), and Ton-Kon-Gah (Black Legs or Leggings), were adult warrior societies, as was the Koitsenko (Qkoie-Tsain-Gah, Principle Dogs or Real Dogs), which consisted of the ten most elite warriors of all the Kiowa and were democratically elected by the members of the other four adult warrior societies.
Kiowa warriors used a combination of traditional and nontraditional weapons, including long lances, bows and arrows, tomahawks, knives, and war-clubs as well as rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and cavalry swords. Shields were made from tough bison hide stretched over a wooden frame or made from the skull of bison which made a small but strong shield. Shields and weapons were adorned with feathers, furs, and animal parts such as eagle claws for ceremonial purposes.
The Kiowa people told James Mooney that the first calendar keeper in their tribe was Little Bluff, or Tohausan, who was the principal chief of the tribe from 1833 to 1866. Mooney also worked with two other calendar keepers, Settan, or Little Bear, and Ankopaingyadete, In the Middle of Many Tracks, commonly known as Anko. Other Plains tribes kept pictorial records, known as "winter counts", however the Kiowa calendar system is unique, recording two events for each year, offering a finer-grained record of the passage of time and twice as many entries for any given period. Silver Horn (1860–1940), or Haungooah, was the most highly esteemed artist of the Kiowa tribe in the 19th and 20th century and a respected religious leader in his later years.
As members of the Kiowa-Tanoan language family, the Kiowa must clearly, at some time in their prehistory, have had a close relationship with – and probably shared an ethnic origin with – the other Amerindian nations of this small language family (Tiwa, Tewa, Towa and others). However, the traditional lifestyle of these peoples – agricultural, settled in permanent villages ('pueblos') – was radically unlike that of the hunter-gatherer economy of the Kiowa in historic times, though the Kiowa did retain certain 'advanced' characteristics – their complex ceremonial life and probably the nearest approach to writing among any Plains tribe in their 'Winter counts'. Nonetheless, the relationship between the 'Puebloan' and 'Plains' branches of this linguistic family has faded from the memory of both branches, and the earliest memories of the Kiowa remember them as living, not near the Arizona/New Mexico homeland of their linguistic 'brethren', but far to the north near the Missouri River, and the Black Hills, whence they were driven south by pressure from the Sioux.
For the earliest recorded – and remembered – history of the Kiowas, see further below.
Following A'date, famous Kiowa leaders were Dohäsan (Tauhawsin, Over-Hanging Butte, alias Little Mountain, alias Little Bluff); Satank (Set-ankea, Sitting Bear), Guipago (Gui-pah-gho, Lone Wolf The Elder, alias Guibayhawgu, Rescued From Wolves), Satanta (Set-tainte, White Bear), Tene-angopte (Kicking Bird), Zepko-ete (Big Bow), Set-imkia (Stumbling Bear), Manyi-ten (Woman's Heart), Napawat (No Mocassin), Mamanti (Walking-above), Tsen-tainte (White Horse), Ado-ete (Big Tree).
Dohasan, who is also known as Touhason, is considered by many to be the greatest Kiowa Chief (1805–1866), who unified and ruled the Kiowa for 30 years. He signed several treaties, including the Fort Atkinson Treaty of July 27, 1852, and the Little Arkansas Treaty of 1865. Guipago became the head chief of the Kiowa when Dohosan (Little Bluff) named him as his successor to become the Principal Chief of the Kiowa people. Guipago and Satanta, along with old Satank, led the warring faction of the Kiowa nation, while Tene-angopte led the peaceful party.
In 1871 Satank, Satanta and Big Tree (translated in some documents as Addo-etta) helped lead the Warren Wagon Train Raid. They were arrested by United States soldiers and transported to Jacksboro, Texas. En route, near Fort Sill, Indian Territory, Satank killed a soldier with a knife and was shot by cavalry troops while trying to escape. Satanta and Big Tree were later convicted of murder by a "cowboy jury".
In September 1872, Guipago met with Satanta and Ado-ete, the visit being one of Guipago's conditions for accepting a request to travel to Washington and meet President Grant for peace talks. Guipago eventually got the two captives released in September 1873. Guipago, Satanta, Set-imkia, Zepko-ete, Manyi-ten, Mamanti, Tsen-tainte and Ado-ete led Kiowa warriors during the "Buffalo war" along the Red River, together with the Comanche allies, in the summer (June–September) 1874, and surrendered after the Palo Duro Canyon fight. Tene-angopte had to select 26 Kiowa chiefs and warriors to be deported to Fort Marion, Florida; Satanta was sent back to Huntsville, while Guipago, Manyi-ten, Mamanti and Tsen-tainte were chosen to be deported to Fort Marion. Tene-angopte, damned by the "medicine-man" Mamanti, died in May 1875; Satanta committed suicide at Huntsville in October 1878; Guipago, having fallen sick with malaria, was jailed in Fort Sill, where he died in 1879.
The Kiowa emerged as a distinct people in their original homeland of the northern Missouri River Basin. Searching for more lands of their own, the Kiowa traveled southeast to the Black Hills in present-day South Dakota and Wyoming around 1650. In the Black Hills region, the Kiowa lived peacefully alongside the Crow Indians, with whom they long maintained a close friendship, organized themselves into 10 bands, and numbered around 3000. Pressure from the Ojibwe in the north woods and edge of the great plains in Minnesota forced the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and later the Sioux westward into Kiowa territory around the Black Hills. The Kiowa were pushed south by the invading Cheyenne who were then pushed westward out of the Black Hills by the Sioux. Eventually the Kiowa obtained a vast territory on the central and southern great plains in western Kansas, eastern Colorado, most of Oklahoma including the panhandle, and the Llano Estacado in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico. In their early history, the Kiowa traveled with dogs pulling their belongings until horses were obtained through trade and raid with the Spanish and other Indian nations in the southwest.
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 Comanche. The two groups made an alliance to share the same hunting grounds and entered into a mutual defense pact and became the dominant inhabitants of the Southern Plains. From that time on, the Comanche and Kiowa hunted, traveled, and made war together. In addition to the Comanche, the Kiowa formed a very close alliance with the Plains Apache (Kiowa-Apache), with the two nations sharing much of the same culture and participating in each other's annual council meetings and events. The strong alliance of southern plains nations kept the invading Spanish from gaining a strong colonial hold on the southern plains and eventually forced them completely out of the area, pushing them eastward and south past the Rio Grande into present day Mexico.
In closing years of the 18th century and in the first quarter of the 19th century, the Kiowa feared little from European neighbors. Kiowa ranged north of the Wichita Mountains. The Kiowa and Comanche controlled a vast expanse of territory from the Arkansas River to the Brazos River. The enemies of the Kiowa were usually the enemies of the Comanche. To the east there was warfare with the Osage and Pawnee.
In the early 18th[dubious ] century , the Cheyenne and Arapaho began camping on the Arkansas River and new warfare broke out. In the south of the Kiowa and Comanche were Caddoan speakers, but the Kiowa and Comanche were friendly toward these bands. The Comanche were at war with the Apache of the Rio Grande region.
They warred with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, Pawnee, Sac & Fox and Osages.
In summer 1833, the Osage attacked an exposed Kiowa camp near Head Mountain, Oklahoma. The Kiowa lost many aged people, children and women. The heads were cut off and placed in kettles. During this "Cut-Throat Massacre", the Osage captured the sacred Tai-may doll (the Sun Dance figure of the Kiowa) as well. The Kiowa were unable to perform the Sun Dance until the return of the Tai-may in 1835.:33 Dohasan replaced the old Kiowa chief, since he had failed to anticipate danger.:259
The Kiowa traded with the Wichita south along Red River and with Mescalero Apache and New Mexicans to the southwest. After 1840 they and their former enemies the Cheyenne, as well as their allies the Comanche and the Apache, fought and raided the Eastern natives moving into the Indian Territory.
The years from 1873 to 1878 marked a drastic change in Kiowa lifestyle. In June 1874, the Kiowa, along with a group of Comanche and Cheyenne warriors, made their last protest against the invasion of white men at the Battle of Adobe Walls in Texas, which proved futile. In 1877, the first homes were constructed for the Indian chiefs and a plan was initiated to employ Indians at the Agency. Thirty Indians were hired to form the first police force on the Reservation.
The Kiowa agreed to settle on a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. Some bands of Kiowas remained at large until 1875. Some of the Lipan Apache and Mescalero Apache bands with some Comanche in their company held out in northern Mexico until the early 1880s, when Mexican and U.S. Army forces drove them onto reservations or into extinction. By the Treaty of Medicine Lodge in 1867, the Kiowas settled in Western Oklahoma and Kansas.
They were forced to move south of the Washita River to the Red River and Western Oklahoma with the Comanches and the Kiowa Apache Tribe. The transition from the free life of Plains people to a restricted life of the reservation was more difficult for some families than others.
The reservation period lasted from 1868 to 1906. In 1873, the first school among the Kiowa was established by Quaker Thomas C. Battey. In 1877, the federal government built the first homes for the Indian chiefs and initiated a plan to employ Indians. 30 Indians were hired to form the first police force on the reservation. In 1879, the agency was moved from Ft. Sill to Anadarko. The 1890 Census showed 1,598 Comanche at the Fort Sill reservation, which they shared with 1,140 Kiowa and 326 Kiowa Apache.
An agreement made with the Cherokee Commission signed by 456 adult male Kiowa, Comanche, and Kiowa-Apache on Sept. 28, 1892, cleared the way for the opening of the country to white settlers. The agreement provided for an allotment of 160 acres (65 ha) to every individual in the tribes and for the sale of the reservation lands (2,488,893 acres or 1,007,219 ha) to the United States – was to go into effect immediately upon ratification by Congress, even though the Medicine Lodge treaty of 1867 had guaranteed Indian possession of the reservation until 1898. The Indian signers wanted their names stricken but it was too late. A'piatan, as the leader, went to Washington to protest. Chief Lone Wolf (the Younger) immediately file proceedings against the act in the Supreme Court, but the Court decided against him on June 26, 1901.
Agents were assigned to the Kiowa people.
Since 1968, the Kiowa have been governed by the Kiowa Tribal Council, which presides over business related to health, education, and economic and industrial development programs.
On March 13, 1970, the Constitution and Bylaws of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma was drafted. On May 23, 1970, it was ratified by voters of the Kiowa Tribe and remains in force.
In 1998, a significant legal development occurred with a landmark decision. In Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma v Manufacturing Technologies, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Indian tribes retain their sovereign immunity from suit without their consent even in off-reservation transactions where they do not waive that immunity.
As of 2000[update], over 4,000 of 12,500 Kiowa lived near the towns of Anadarko, Fort Cobb, and Carnegie, in Caddo and Kiowa counties, Oklahoma. Kiowas also reside in urban and suburban communities throughout the United States. World War II rekindled the Kiowa warrior spirit and urbanization and modernization occurred in the war's aftermath. Each year Kiowa veterans commemorate the warlike spirit of the 19th century leaders with dances performed by the Kiowa Gourd Clan and Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society. Kiowa cultural identity and pride is apparent in their expressive culture and strong influence on the Gourd Dance and southern plains art.
Longhorn Mountain near Carnegie, Oklahoma, a sacred site and source of cedar for the Kiowa, was leased to rock-crushing company Stewart Stone, Inc., of Cushing, Oklahoma, which announced intentions to begin to mine gravel in 2013.
Documentation of the history and development of contemporary Kiowa art formulates one of the most unusual records in Native American culture. As early as 1891, Kiowa artists were being commissioned to produce works for display at international expositions. The "Kiowa Six" were some of the earliest Native Americans to receive international recognition for their work in the fine art world. They influenced generations of Indian artists among the Kiowa, and other Plains tribes. Traditional craft skills are not lost among the Kiowa people today and the talented fine arts and crafts produced by Kiowa Indians helped the Oklahoma Indian Arts and Crafts Cooperative flourish over its 20-year existence.
Early Kiowa ledger artists were those held in captivity by the U.S. Army at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida (1875–1878), at the conclusion of the Red River War, which also is known as the Southern Plains Indian War. Ledger art emerges from the Plains hide painting tradition. These Fort Marion artists include Kiowas Etadleuh Doanmoe and Zotom, who was a prolific artist who chronicled his experiences before and after becoming a captive at the fort. After his release from Fort Marion, Paul Zom-tiam (Zonetime, Koba) studied theology from 1878 until 1881, when he was ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal church.
Following in Silver Horn's footsteps were the Kiowa Six, or, as they have been known in the past, the Kiowa Five. They are Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope, Lois Bougetah Smoky, and Monroe Tsatoke 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 Six gained international recognition as fine artists by exhibiting their work in the 1928 International Art Congress in Czechoslovakia and then participated in the Venice Biennale in 1932.
Besides the Kiowa Five and Silver Horn, Kiowa painters active in the 20th and 21st centuries include Sharron Ahtone Harjo; Homer Buffalo; Charley Oheltoint; Michael C. Satoe Brown; T. C. Cannon; Wilson Daingkau; George Geionty; Bobby Hill (1933–1984); Harding Bigbow (1921–1997); Jim Tartsah; Mirac Creepingbear (1947–1990); Herman Toppah; Ernie Keahbone; C.E. Rowell; Dixon Palmer; Roland Whitehorse; Blackbear Bosin; Woody Big Bow (1914–1988); Parker Boyiddle, Jr. (1947–2007); Dennis Belindo (1938–2009); Clifford Doyeto (1942–2010); Al Momaday; George Keahbone; Joe Lucero (Hobay); Ladonna Tsatoke Silverhorn; R.G. Geionty; Huzo Paddelty; Keri Ataumbi, David E. Williams; Micah Wesley; Thomas Poolaw,; Tennyson Reid; Sherman Chaddlesone (1947–2013; Cruz McDaniels; Robert Redbird (b. 1939); Gus Hawziptaw; Gerald Darby; Lee Tsatoke Jr., N. Scott Momaday; and Barthell Little Chief.
Noted Kiowa beadwork artists include Donna Jean Tsatoke, Alice Littleman, Nettie Standing, Marilyn Yeahquo, Edna Hokeah Pauahty, Leona Geimasaddle, Barry D. Belindo, Kathy Littlechief, Katherine Dickerson, Charlie Silverhorn, Paul McDaniels, Jr., Kiowa J. Taryole, Grace Tsontekoy, Richard Aitson, Judy Beaver, Vanessa Paukeigope Jennings, Leatrice Geimasaddle, and Teri Greeves.
Kiowa-Cherokee author N. Scott Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his novel House Made of Dawn. Richard Aitson (Kiowa-Kiowa Apache) is a published poet. Other Kiowa authors include playwright Hanay Geiogamah, poet and filmmaker Gus Palmer, Jr., Alyce Sadongei, Marian Kaulaity Hansson, Tocakut and Tristan Ahtone.
Kiowa music often is noted for its hymns that traditionally were accompanied by dance or played on the flute. Noted Kiowa composers of contemporary music include James Anquoe, noted for his contributions to Native American culture. Contemporary Kiowa musicians include Cornel Pewewardy, Tom Mauchahty-Ware, and Terry Tsotigh.
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, beginning the 1920s. His legacy is continued today by his grandson, Thomas Poolaw, a prominent Kiowa photographer and digital artist.
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