|Memories by Old Lady Horse, a Kiowa
Everything the Kiowas had came from the buffalo. Their tipis were made of buffalo hides, so were their clothes and moccasins. They ate
buffalo meat. Their containers were made of hide, or of bladders or stomachs. The buffalo were the life of the Kiowas.
Most of all, the buffalo was part of the Kiowa religion. A white buffalo calf must be sacrificed in the Sun Dance. The priests used parts of the
buffalo to make their prayers when they healed people or when they sang to the powers above.
So, when the white men wanted to build railroads, or when they wanted to farm or raise cattle, the buffalo still protected the Kiowas. They
tore up the railroad tracks and the gardens. They chased the cattle off the ranges. The buffalo loved their people as much as the Kiowas loved
There was war between the buffalo and the white men. The white men built forts in the Kiowa country, and the woolly-headed buffalo soldiers
shot the buffalo as fast as they could (...)
Then the white men hired hunters to do nothing but kill the buffalo. Up and down the plains those men ranged, shooting sometimes as many
as a hundred buffalo a day. Behind them came the skinners with their wagons (...) Sometimes there would be a pile of bones as high as a man,
stretching a mile along the railroad track.
The buffalo saw that their day was over. They could protect their people no longer. Sadly, the last remnant of the great heard gathered in
council, and decided what they would do.
The Kiowas were camped on the north side of Mount Scott, those of then who were still free to camp. One young woman got up very early in
the morning. The dawn mist was still rising from Medicine Creek, and as she looked across the water, peering through the haze, she saw the
last buffalo herd appear like a spirit dream.
Straight to Mount Scott the leader of the herd walked. Behind him came the cows and their calves, and the few young males who had
survived. As the woman watched, the face of the mountain opened.
Inside Mount Scott the world was green and fresh, as it had been when she was a small girl. The rivers ran clear, not red. The wild plums were
in blossom, chasing the red buds up the inside slopes. Into this world the beauty of the buffalo walked, never to be seen again.
Alice Marriott and Carol K. Rachlin, American Indian Mythology (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968), 169-70. Quoted in Our Hearts Fell to the Ground: Plains Indians
Views on How the West was Lost, ed. by Colin G. Colloway (New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996), 129-30.
|The old Buffalo Road - Highway 82 west of Wichita Falls - carried hides and bones into Dallas and Fort Worth. Within twenty years, the great
bison herds of the Southern Plains were completely decimated.
|Kiowa Chief Santana (White Bear), who defied the white settlers to the bitter end. He is buried at Fort Sill.
|The Kiowas - Home on the Plains
|Travois are sleds that women pulled behind them to carry their items as the tribe pursued the bison. Kiowa women were hard workers, and the
tribe relied on them to do the majority of the work.
|Kiowa girls posed for photographs in their native costumes for George Addison at Fort Sill. Photographers sold these cabinet cards to people
back east, who were interested in the "exotic" west (LOC).
|The Last of the Buffalo
|Questions or comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org