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Native America Tribal Nations Mini-lesson: Kiowa Nation


Today's Mini-lesson is on the Kiowa Nation!

The red splotch in the image above is the traditional lands of the Kiowa nation people. For most of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Kiowa couldn't be bothered by European Settlers.

The Kiowa and Comanche controlled most of the territory from the Arkansas River to the Brazos River in Texas.

Around 1873 to 1878 marked major changes for the Kiowa people. Three tribes, the Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne joined together to fight off the invasion of Settler soldiers, known as the battle of Adobe Wells in TX.

These red sandstone cliffs are and will always be a sacred place to the Kiowa people, though it is not on their reservation.

The Kiowa reservation is in Oklahoma. The treaty of Medicine Lodge forced the remaining survivors of Adobe Wells onto a reservation or their other choice was extinction.

Many in the Powwow circuit have seen the Kiowa Gourd Dance.

Unlike other dances at the powwows, the Gourd Dance is not one done for the competition. The Gourd dance is a religious ceremony, and men and women participate in their own ways.

The story of the Gourd Dance goes like this (and full disclosure, I am not Kiowa, but one of the nights when I was extremely exhausted working Gathering of Nations, my boss Paul Gowder told me this I apologize if I don't relay it as well as he.)

One night a young man was separated from his clan, whether he was lost, or left willingly is up for debate. He wandered for many days, dehydrated and tired when he came to a hill. He heard a strange sound coming from the other side. When he climbed to the top he saw a red wolf singing and howling in song. He was standing on his hind legs like a human, and danced in small movements or stood in place. The man listened throughout the night. In the morning the Red Wolf told him to bring these songs and the dance back to his people. The “howl” in the songs for Gourd Dancing is meant to honor that Red Wolf.

Women also participate in the Gourd Dance, though they do not enter the circle. They wear shawls and stand behind the men of their family. It's beautiful support.

So that's your mini-lesson for the day!

I encourage you to do your own research!


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