THE TEN GRANDMOTHERS
religion of the Kiowa became one of the most potent religions ever
believed in by the plains tribes. The Grandmothers each had their own
tipi, their own horse, and their own dedicated guardian Everything in the
tribe and the camps centered around the Grandmothers. There was no coming
or going without consulting them. They were not idols. The Kiowa do not
worship them. They are objects to pray in the presence of. The Kiowa
believed in an all-powerful Creator, a person who was known by a word that
meant"The Man who created the World".
The Grandmothers are a part
of the Creator. When the Kiowa pray in their presence, they are asking the
Grandmothers to relay their prayers to the Creator.
Grandmothers are kept in buffalo hide containers, are blessed and purified
by medicine men, and filled with various objects. Willie Maunkee (Kiowa
Bill) was the last Keeper of one of the Grandmothers. Those who have
Grandmothers now, are only guardians. When Kiowa Bill died, the
Grandmother bags were sewed shut, never to be opened again, because he was
the last true keeper.
The story of the Grandmothers has been told
through the years by the grandparents to the young. There are few written
documents on the early history of the Kiowa, Their history is oral passed
down the generations by their extraordinary memories. This is the story
the grandparents have passed, with clarity, to the younger generations,
about Earth Woman.
"There once lived a man and a woman, father and
mother to one child, a girl baby. The girl baby never passed from the
sight of her parents. Zealously they watched over her day and
One day a friend persuaded the mother and father to allow
her to take the baby's cradle outside and place it on a cedar branch. The
cradle swayed gently in the wind. A cardinal flew down and alighted softly
on the branch which held the cradle. Chirping softly to the girl baby, the
bird beckoned her to follow him. She crawled out of her cradle and
followed the bird.
The girl baby felt herself ascending into the
sky as she followed the red bird. Ascending higher into the realms of the
clouds, she grew older. The two came to a stop and Earth Woman looked and
saw the cardinal was really the Sun, a handsome young man. The Sun told
Earth Woman "I have watched you for a long time and I wanted you for my
wife. I found a way to bring you to my land."
Sun and Earth Woman
were wed. A male child was born to the union. He was named Sun Boy. He was
the first Kiowa. The woman and child could partake of any foliage which
grew in the land except one. The Sun forbade the tree to the Earth Woman.
Earth Woman and the Sun quarreled one day. He left on a hunting
trip. Earth Woman took the child and sought out the forbidden tree.
Kneeling she scratched the earth at the tree's roots, the soil fell away.
Looking down through the hole, Earth Woman saw far below her the earth and
her people. She was lonesome for her people.
Hurriedly she found a
vine and twisted it into a rope. Tying Sun Boy to her back, she crawled
down the vine which hung earthward. The Sun came home in the evening. He
found Earth Woman and the child gone. He became very angry and went to the
tree. It was a long way to earth and Earth Woman hung suspended between
the land of the Sun and the earth.
The Sun took an iron gaming
wheel which he always carried. The Sun instructed the gaming wheel to
follow the vine, strike the woman, but spare the boy. The wheel hit Earth
woman. Earth Woman and the boy fell. Striking the ground, Earth Woman
died, but Sun Boy survived.
Sun Boy was found by Grandmother Spider
who took care of him. Sun Boy carried his father's iron gaming wheel.
Grandmother Spider told Sun Boy he was never to throw the iron gaming
wheel skyward. But, being a boy, Sun Boy had to find out what would happen
if the wheel was thrown skyward. Going behind a mountain, Sun Boy hurled
the wheel into the air and as it came down, the wheel hit Sun Boy in the
very middle of him, cutting him in two. Now Sun Boy had become
Grandmother Spider almost cried when she saw the twins
approaching the lodging. But, nevertheless she cared for the boys and they
Grandmother Spider died and the twin boys buried her by the
lake which was their home. Then the twin boys were punished for disobeying
a belief. The twin boys were turned into pillars of salt. The pillars
stood by the lake where Grandmother Spider was buried."
Anthropologists believe the
original twin gods were peculiar rock formations in Montana. An earthquake
may have caused one to tumble into the other, breaking it. A giant
earthquake came one stone pillar fell into the lake never to be seen
again, the other fell to the ground, breaking into ten pieces.
This information compiled, prepared and submitted to this site from
the book Ten Grandmothers by Alice Marriott by Ethel Taylorand remains her
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by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied
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