Kiowa

Religion and Rituals, Traditions, Myths/Legends

Introduction

The Kiowa had lived in South-Western Montana, and later moved out of the region to the Great Plains, with the influence of other tribes that wanted the region for themselves, they journeyed, with another tribe, Kiowa-Apache. The Kiowa then met the Crow, and made an alliance between them. They soon became the most warlike and most feared tribes of the Plains, when they got horses from traders from Spain, they hunted bison with the added speed and also quickly learned how to shoot a bow and arrow while in full gallop, often not missing their targets. When the other tribes of the Great Plains were being pushed out of their territories and into reservations, the Kiowa didn't give up in fighting of the colonists and raided to survive, eventually they were moved to a reservation in Florida.


(The Kiowa tribes real name is Kiowa-Tanoan, Kiowa is the language they speak.)

Religion

Great Being (Supreme Being)

  • The Kiowa worshipped the Great Being who resided on the sun.
  • They faced their teepees toward the East, so that the sun would be one of the first things they saw, and as a reminder to pray.
  • The Kiowa didn't have any worshipping sites.
  • They believed that the Great Being lived in each and everyone of them.
  • And because of that they didn't believe in discrimination.

Lesser gods

  • The Four Sacred Powers, thought of by the Cheyenne.
  • They gave the breath of life and provided necessary things.
  • They controlled the seasons.
  • The Kiowa also believed in spirits of everything.
  • They put the blame on the lesser gods when a natural disaster occurred
  • Leaving their relationship with the Great Being pure.

Rituals

Sun Dance

• Way to ask for supernatural powers

• Held during the summer solstice

• Family helped prepare and paid

• Family paid artist to paint designs on dancer’s body

• The Medicine Man gave the okay to start the dance

• Took ten days to prepare, four for dancing while fasting (during dancing)

• Didn’t pierce skin, considered taboo

• Midnight everyone but the dancers and the mentor went to rest

• The dancers went to a sweat lodge and stayed their cooling off

• Water lilies placed on heads, and fanned by mentors

• Ate traditional ceremonial food, in small portions

• End of Sun Dance everyone did Buffalo Dance, so ones leaving would be protected

Gourd Dance

  • The Gourd Dance is a dance made by the Kiowa.
  • It is done around a circular arena, and the dancers (males) would gather around the edge of the circle, while their female partners stood behind them and assisted in 'background dancing'. They danced to the rhythm of the drums and the singers (the partners) voices. They also had a rattle made of a hollowed gourd and had beads sewn in on it.

Myths/Legends

Importance of Myths and Legends

  • Myths and legends were a way of gathering the tribe around to share quality time.
  • Also a way to explain why things happened the way they did
  • A way to influence the behaviours of the children

Zaidethali

Zaidethali, which means “Split Boys” and killed many monsters when they were together, but one day, one of them went missing and the the remaining brother turned himself into Tali-dai which means “Boy Medicines, which is called/known today as Ten Medicines.

Beginning of Kiowa

A Kiowa myth of Saynday, a trickster, turned the subbertennan- Kiowas to ants, he then made them come to the Earth by a cottonwood log. A pregnant Kiowa woman got stuck in the log and the other Kiowas couldn't reach the Earth’s surface. It’s a way to explain the 1,000 to 1,100 people of Kiowa during the 19th century.

Story of the Gourd Dance



A young man from the Kiowa tribe had gotten lost. He was thirsty and hungry after many days of travel, he the stumbled upon a hill, on the other side he heard strange music and decided to investigate, hoping for civilization. Instead he stumbled upon a red wolf singing and dancing on it’s hind legs. He watched in amazement, and stayed watching through the afternoon and night until the morning, when the wolf went up to the young man and told him to take the dance and song back to his people. The young man, of course said yes, and went back to finding the tribe, when he found them he immediately told them about his strange meeting with the Red Wolf and demonstrated the dance and song the wolf sang. The tribe readily adapted the dance and song, they added a wolf howl to the end of each dance as a tribute to the Red Wolf