The Kiowa Tribe mourns the passing of Dr. N. Scott Momaday, a Native American Novelist
The Kiowa Tribe mourns the passing of Dr. N. Scott Momaday, one of our most revered and honored citizens, last Wednesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As he entered into the presence of his ancestors and relatives, he leaves behind an amazing legacy of storytelling and literature unparalleled within the American Indian community that profoundly resonated the history and experience of our Kiowa people. His journey from the shadow of Rainy Mountain to the heights of literary acclaim brought great pride to our citizens and gave the world a glimpse of the capacity of our [Gáuigú citizens to excel at the highest levels of society. Dr. Momaday was a humble, decent man with a powerful and mellifluous voice that spoke volumes about our collective journey and experience which gave great insight into the Native perspective and intellectual capacity so often ignored or overlooked. We are thankful that Dau:ki allowed him to serve his purpose with meaning and richness in life. We are thankful that such a man as this represented our community with honor and dignity throughout his life. The following excerpt from one of his speeches reflects the Native perspective he so richly shared with society in general:
Addressing a gathering of American Indian scholars in 1970, Momaday said, “Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves.” He championed Natives’ reverence for nature, writing that “the American Indian has a unique investment in the American landscape.” He shared stories told to him by his parents and grandparents. He regarded oral culture as the wellspring of language and storytelling and dated American culture back not to the early English settlers, but to ancient times, noting the procession of gods depicted in the rock art at Utah’s Barrier Canyon.
“We do not know what they mean, but we know we are involved in their meaning,” he wrote in the essay “The Native Voice in American Literature.”
“They persist through time in the imagination, and we cannot doubt that they are invested with the very essence of language, the language of story and myth and primal song. They are 2,000 years old, more or less, and they remark as closely as anything can the origin of American literature.”
Making history as the first Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1969 for his book “House Made of Dawn,” he inspired other Kiowas and Native Americans across the country to tell their own stories and aspire to achieve great things in any field of endeavor.
Respectfully, we extend the sincerest condolences to his family and all those touched by his extraordinary life. Blessed are those that mourn.
Journey well venerated elder, you have brought great honor and respect to our Kiowa people!