Kiowa Indians

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Kiowa Indians


The Kiowas, according to their traditions, were hunters living at the sources of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers in present Montana. It was a cold region of deep snows. They hunted with bow and arrow with the dog-their only domesticated animal drawing the travois with poles attached to harness. A great river flowed west of mountains called Gai K'op (Kiowa Mountains). The Flatheads were neighbors and north and west were several Athabascan tribes such as their friends, the Sarsis. According to legend a quarrel divided the tribe over hunting spoils-the udders of a doe. The winners of that delicacy moved southeastward with the Kiowa Apaches to live with friends, the Crows. Those left behind were never heard of again. The Crows taught them to ride horses and hunt buffalo-animals they had never seen before. There was some intermarriage with the Crows as there was with the Sarsis, as they still visited the Sarsis. Dohäsan, one of the greatest of Kiowa chiefs, had a Crow ancestor. Satank of the Koitsenko warriors had a Sarsi mother. The earliest written mention of the Kiowas and their long affiliated tribe, the Kiowa Apaches, was in 1682 by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who heard of them from a captive Pani slave boy at Fort St. Louis who called them Manrhouts and Gattacha. The Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804 heard of them in the Yellowstone region but did not meet them.


The Kiowas had taken the first step basic to the acquisition of the Plains Culture by learning to ride the horse and by hunting, on horseback, the buffalo for food, the main commissary of that culture. Horses drew them southward. Gaining horses, slaves, and guns from the Spanish, the Kiowas evolved into completely nomadic lifeways of predation, pillage, and warfare, until they became one of the most feared and hated of the Plains tribes. Constantly they kept the greatest numbers of horses of all the Plains Indians. About 1790 the Kiowas made a lasting peace with the Comanches and with them traded horses and captives east by way of the Wichitas and Taovayas to the French and English for guns, ammunition, and metal for points and vermilion for face paint. In 1840, under the sponsorship of William Bent, the Kiowas, Kiowa Apaches, and Comanches joined with the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos at Bent's Fort on the Arkansas in a peace never broken. Bent's wife was a Cheyenne, and he wanted the Cheyennes and Kiowas to trade there in peace. The five tribes in union made a formidable barrier athwart the Arkansas to passage across the southern plains. The government sent the First Dragoons to protect wagontrains on the Santa Fe Trail. Later the Second Dragoons and the Mounted Rifles tried to protect the southwest and Texas from Indian incursions. In the 1850s the Second United State Cavalryqv sought to stem the attacks on the frontiers of the southwest and Texas by the five tribes but with little success.


The Kiowas camped ...
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