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OK Kiowa Tribe – Past and Present en

The purpose of this non-profit, educational self-guided tour is to explore places in Oklahoma of historical significance for or involving the Kiowa Nation as well as places to see Kiowa historical cultural artifacts and contemporary works of art.

The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is federally recognized with headquarters in Carnegie, OK. Their tribal jurisdiction includes Caddo, Comanche, Cotton, Grady, Kiowa, Tillman, and Washita counties. Their language is part of the Tanoan family and is still spoken today.

Kiowa call themselves Ka’igwu, Cáuigù or Gaigwu, most given as meaning “Principal People”. One theory is that 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. The second element -gua refers to “men or people”, so the meaning of the two elements is “Kiowa people”.  Another theory is that the name Kiowa evolved from the Comanche name for the tribe. The Comanche originally called them “Kaigwa” (two halves differ). This name referred to the way Kiowa warriors wore their hair. The warriors traditionally cut only one side of their hair and left the other long. As the Europeans began to make records of the tribe, Kaigwa became Kiowa.

Their official logo shows a Kiowa Warrior of the Plains. The symbolism includes ten eagle feathers which represent the ten Kiowa Medicine Bundles deriving power from the Half Boy, “Tahlee.” The lightning bolt on the front left leg of the horse suggests the voice of thunder heard each Spring and is represented on the Great Drum of the Oh-ho-mah Society as being held in the eagle talons. The bone breast plate and red cape (Spanish Officer coat), the circular blue sky of the Great Plains and the blood red band print are part of the Koitsenko Warrior tradition. The shield depicts the sacred Rainy Mountain in Oklahoma, the sacred Kiowa burial ground at the end of the Great Tribal Journey. The recurring circular patterns represent either the Sun or the Moon, both important in the Kiowa ceremonial dance rituals of the Skaw-Tow (Sundance), the Feather (Ghost) Dance and the Peyote (Native American Church) Service.

Leaving their ancestral homelands near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River of western Montana in the late 17th century, the horse-seeking Kiowa had migrated southeast through Crow country and had reached the Black Hills of Wyoming/South Dakota by 1775. Then in the early 19th century they had been pushed south of the Platte to the Arkansas River by the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne. The new Kiowa 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. Characterized by mild winters and ample grazing, the region teemed with bison and feral horse herds, and the Kiowa developed an equestrian, bison-hunting culture. The Kiowa initially skirmished with the more populous Comanche before creating a confederation between 1790 and 1806, and by 1840 the Kiowa had forged alliances with the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Osage.

* Top image, swipe left to see a map of Kiowa lands prior to 1850.

Provisions of the 1865 Little Arkansas Treaty forced the Kiowa and Comanche to relinquish lands in Kansas and New Mexico, and the 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty established a 2.8 million acre reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. There the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache were confined following their subjugation at the end of the Red River War in May 1875. Kiowa-Comanche-Apache (KCA) Reservation lands were allotted in 1901 and 1906 following the controversial 1892 Jerome Agreement and the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903).

Today, the Kiowa remain one of Oklahoma’s most vital American Indian tribes.  Of the 12,500 enrolled Kiowa, over 4,000 live near the towns of Anadarko, Fort Cobb, and Carnegie, in Caddo and Kiowa counties. Kiowa also reside in urban and suburban communities throughout the US, having moved to areas with more jobs. 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.

Sources:
* https://kiowatribe.org/. Retrieved 11:00, 25 Jan 2019.
* Wikipedia contributors. (2019, January 16). Kiowa. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:03, January 25, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kiowa&oldid=878721231.
* https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/kiowa-social-and-political-structure/19278.  Retrieved 12:04, 25 Jan 2019.
* https://www.spthb.org/about-us/who-we-serve/kiowa-tribe-of-oklahoma/.  Retrieved 12:04, 25 Jan 2019.

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