HISTORY OF THE KIOWA TRIBE
It has been archaeologically recorded that the Kiowa originated in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia, Canada. The tribe then migrated to Western Montana and continued to move until they inhabited present day Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Historically, earliest written records indicate Kiowas in the northern basin of the Missouri River, but they migrated south to the Black Hills around 1650 where they lived with the Crow tribe.
The Kiowas moved down the Platte River basin to the Arkansas River area after they were pushed southward by the invading Cheyennes and Sioux who were being pushed out of their own lands in the great lake regions by the Ojibwa tribes. There they fought with the Comanches, who already occupied the land.
Around 1790, the two groups made an alliance and agreed to share the area. From that time on, the Comanches and Kiowas formed a deep bond; the people hunted, traveled, and fought wars together. An additional group, the Plains Apache (also called Kiowa-Apache), were also affiliated with the Kiowas at this time.
ORIGINAL TERRITORY OF THE KIOWA TRIBE
The Kiowas lived a typical Plains Indian lifestyle. Mostly nomadic, they survived on buffalo meat, gathered vegetables, lived in teepees and depended on their horses for hunting and military uses.
The Kiowas were notorious for long-distance raids south into Mexico and as far north as Canada. Even though the winters in their homeland were harsh, the Kiowas tended to enjoy this climate and did not spend much time south of their land. Although in some ways the Kiowas displayed a typical Plains Indian culture, they had an effective and well organized military design and were thought to be one of the most warlike tribes.
The Kiowas were part of the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 and were assigned a reservation in Oklahoma in 1868. They never really confined their activities to the reservation, however, and in 1874 resumed warfare with the white settlers in the vicinity. It wasn’t until about a year later in September, when several of their leaders and many of their horses were captured, that the Kiowas ended the war with the white settlers. Two of the most famous Kiowa chiefs were named Satanta and Satank. Both participated in the Warren Wagon Train Raid.
THE INDIAN WARS
After 1840, the Kiowas joined forces with their former enemies, the Cheyennes, as well as the Comanches and the Apaches, to fight and raid the Eastern natives who were moving into the Indian Territory. The United States military intervened, and in the Treaty of Medicine Lodge of 1867, the Kiowas agreed to settle on a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. On August 6, 1901 Kiowa land in Oklahoma was opened for white settlement, effectively dissolving the contiguous reservation. While each Kiowa head of household was allotted 160 acres, the only land remaining in Kiowa tribal ownership today is what was the scattered parcels of ‘grass land’ that had been leased to the white settlers for grazing before the reservation was opened for settlement.
This official logo of the Kiowa Tribe 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.