Once the Kiowa were mountain people. They were blessed with extraordinary memories. It is in these memories, the grandparents speak of the origin of the Kiowa, and the Ten Grandmothers religion. They were hunters and horsethieves, warriors and priests of the sun.

The Kiowa were first located along the Columbia River in Canada in 1700. They lived where the springs flowed westward. The traders of Canada's British Columbia gave the first written account of the Kiowa about 1700.

They migrated from Arrow River in 1700 to the Upper Yellowstone (Missouri River), then on into the Black hills about 1780. It was here that the Lewis and Clark Expedition came across large Kiowa encampments. They continued downward through Nebraska and Kansas to Oklahoma and Texas.

Kiowa, the name designated for the Kiowa People at the time of European contact, has no meaning in the Kiowa language. Ancient names of the tribe are Kwu-da and Tep-da, meaning "pulling out" and "coming out" respectively. It is possible that these names are related to the tribe's mythical origins. The Kiowa in later years, have also refered to themselves by the name Kom-pa-bianta or people of the "large tipi flaps". This name was known among the tribe long before their affiliation with the Southern Plains tribes or, later, with the white man. Today, they call themselves Kaui-gu which identifies them as a group.

The early tribe lived in or past the mountains beyond the source of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, in an area described as a region of great cold and deep snow. The mountains in this area, which is now western Montana, are to this day called Kaui-kope, or "mountains of the Kiowa". In this part of the country, a decisive dispute between two Kiowa chiefs resulted in one chief withdrawing his band to the Northwest. These lost people are called A-za-tan-hap, or "those who went away suspiciously". The other chief and his followers traveled to the Southeast, and for the first time, met the Crow Tribe. After obtaining permission from the Crow People, the Kiowa group settled east of them. The present Tai-me or Sundance Medicine and the sacred arrow lance, were aquired by the Kiowa from the Crow during this alliance. While in the area, the Kiowa also become friendly with the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa.

After years of war with the Cheyenne and Dakota tribes, which had pushed into the Black Hills from the North, they moved south into what is now eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Up until now they used only dogs and travois for travel. Here they acquired horses which changed their lifestyle. They became true Plains Indians, living by horse and buffalo. The buffalo played a significant role in the life of the Kiowa as a major source of food and raw materials for their living necessities. Although the Buffalo were plentiful, the Kiowa never killed wantonly, or for sport. They were killed out of necessity, whenever food, clothing or shelter were needed.

About 1790, after a long period of war, they made permanent peace with the Comanche. As allies, the two tribes ruled most of the land between the Arkansas and Red Rivers, resisting white settlement. The Kiowa made long expeditions into Mexico, establishing headquarters in the Sierra Madre, from which they made trips farther south to Durango, Sonora, Sinaloa, and even the Gulf of California.

They were fierce warriors and are credited with stopping the progress of the Pacific Railroads westward for 40 years. They are also credited with killing more white people per person than any other tribe. When they came to the Washita River, they were glad for the sight of water..

In 1832, a tribal chronicle was recorded by Aunko (Onko) the calender maker. The Aunko calender is a highly developed pictograph of the tribe's successes, starvation, trials and other important tribal incidents. The Kiowa year began in autumn, and the Aunko calender was a 37 month calender, recording events from 1833 to 1885. Aunko died in the early part of this century.

The calender records the year the stars fell - 1833, when the Osages came to the Kiowas, (which is called the Cut Throat Massacre). The Cutthroat Massacre site is just east of Cooperton in Kiowa County. The Osage attacked an undefended Kiowa Camp in early summer.

The Kiowa met Kit Carson and the soldiers in 1839 at a friendship meeting which was for the purpose of a treaty entered into by To-Ha-Sun. They gave him a buckskin scroll as an exchange gift. Then came 1867, the year of the Medicine Lodge Treaty which had ten signers of the Kiowa Nation. They were ordered to take up reservation on Indian Territory in Oklahoma. It was here that Palo Duro Canyon, the wagon train massacres, Tehan Texas captives, and the final surrender are stamped in the memories of the Kiowa.

The plains tribes took not only captives from other tribes, but white people and Mexicans. When this happened some were kept as slaves and some were adopted into the tribe. When adopted, they were loved and cared for so much that some of the captives did not want to go back to their real relatives. One of these captives, from a raid about 1870, when the Kiowa were called together and organized back into war parties because of repeated broken promises, was Millie Durgen/Durkin. Taken as a child, Millie did not know she was white until just a few years before she died.

A number of the Kiowa became well known in Oklahoma Territory. They are very much a part of the history of the area. Some towns in Present day Kiowa County were named for them. Some well known Kiowa were Lone Wolf I, Lone Wolf II, Komalty, Gotebo, Big Tree, Satank and Satanta. While you are here, take a look through our Kiowa Photo Album.

Read an interview with Evans Ray Satepauhoodle, Kiowa Elder

Read the Sett'an and Anko annual Kiowa Calendars

Read about the Last Kiowa Sundance.

The Kiowa Warriors still exist. This is a list of the Modern Warriors

This page tells of the Kiowa Five , early well known Kiowa artists

William B. "Bill" Hall Zotigh, born April 24, 1928 in Hobart to Stephen Hall and Inez (Amaunkomo) Zotigh, departed this life December 3, 1999. Bill was a Korean conflict veteran, awarded two purple hearts and numerous meritorious medals,member of the American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and VFW. He was a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and Kiowa Warrior Descendents.

Bill was a great influence and tremendous help to me in building the Kiowa pages for this site. His guidance helped to present correct information on the Kiowa. He will be missed.

Books of the Kiowa

The following is a list of recommended books about the Kiowa People. This list was compiled by William B. Hall Zotigh, Hobart, OK., Kiowa Tribal Member. I'm sure you will enjoy reading these. Check your local library for copies.

Carbine and Lance, 1943, by W. S. Nye
Kiowa Turning, 1944, by Coe Hayne
A Calender History of the Kiowa Indians, 1899, by James Mooney
Neath August Sun, 1934, by John E. Hewitt
The Kiowa Indians, 1958 by Hugh D. Corwin
Ten Grandmothers, 1945 by Alice Marriott
The Medicine Lodge Treaty 1867
In the Limelight by John Jasper Methrin
A Quaker Among the Indians by Thomas C. Battey
The Comanche-Kiowa Agency School 1928 by Josiah Butler
Our Red Brothers 1899, by Lawrie Tatum
The Kiowa 1915, by Isabel Crawford

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