As I began researching the history of the Kiowas, I couldn't help but feel as though every time I asked a question, took a picture, or
doubted a source, I was opening an old wound. The old adage to let sleeping dogs lie - to not ask the descendants of the Kiowa of their
ancestor's fates or to talk about the discrimination they have faced over the years - filled my apprehensive mind. The fact that the majority
of my ancestors, all poor, Southern whites who had had a hand in pushing the American Indian off of his ancestral lands and into a
government controlled existence, shamed me to no end.

The genocide that occurred during Indian removal in the 19th century is a part of history that most Americans deal with rather reluctantly.
The belief is that progress, being inevitable, was what killed the Native American way of life, not some kind of grand scheme or
conspiracy. No one, so traditionalists like to claim, was responsible for the plight of the native people -it was just a case of que sera,
sera.  The truth is far different, however. The United States government, under the recommendation of General William Tecumseh
Sherman (the one who marched on Atlanta during the Civil War),
purposely created an agenda to eradicate the Indians, or, at the very
least, force them into assimilation. For some tribes, the policy came to life by being given the blankets of small pox victims; others
watched as their main source of food and trade, the buffalo, were killed off by the tens of thousands.

In order to understand the past, one has to come to terms with it, warts and all. That is why discussing slavery, while painful for all parties
involved, is the surest way to uncover the truth in American history. Likewise, dealing honestly with Native Americans' historical
treatment - whether by examining forced assimilation, removal, outright starvation, dishonored treaties or tribal warfare -is the only
method to understand what drove the Anglo settler in the past and what still drives the Native American today.
Pawnee buffalo hide, Indian City, Oklahoma.
Sayndayn, The Legendary Hero, on the Changing World

Sayndayn was coming along, and as he came he saw that all his world had changed. Where the buffalo herds used to graze, he saw
white-faced cattle. The Washita River, which once ran bankful with clear water, was soggy with red mud. There were no deer or antelope
in the brush or skittering across the high plains. No white tipis rose proudly against the blue sky; settler's soddies dented the hillsides
and the creek banks.

My time has come, Sayndayn thought to himself. The world I lived in is dead. Soon the Kiowa people will be fenced like the white man's
cattle and they cannot break out the fences because the barbed wire will tear their flesh. I can't help my people any longer by staying
with them. My time has come, and I will have to go away from this changing world.

From American Indian Mythology by Alice Marriott and Carol K. Rachlin (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968, 173-77), as excerpted in Our Hearts Fell to the Ground:  Plains Indians Views of How the West
Was Lost,
ed. by Colin G. Calloway (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996), p.51.
A view of the Tonkowa Massacre Site, near Andarko, Oklahoma. Before the Civil War, the Tonkawas had worked as scouts for the American
army, and were viewed with suspicion by American settlers (many of whom couldn't tell the difference between Indian tribes and alliances)
and with disdain by other tribes (who saw them as cannibals who colluded with enemies). In 1859, the Tonkawas were forced to leave their
Texas reservation on the
Brazos River and moved to the Wichita Agency at Anadarko. In 1862, Delawares, Shawnees, and Osages ambushed
and massacred the Tonkawas, leaving them almost completely devastated. The tribe never recovered.

* I have been asked often about the strange "shadow" in the photograph. I do not know if this is lens glare or something else.
Necessary Pain
Assimilation was standard curriculum in schools that served Indian children, like this one at Fort Sill.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com