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Tahan
Chapter XIV Our Ideas of Creation and of the Origin of Our Tribe


OUR belief concerning the creation of the world and all things therein, was this:

The He-Who-Makes wished it and the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars came. Then he caused our father the Sun to send his warmth into the heart of our mother the Earth, and she gave forth all living things, vegetable and animal.

And this was the origin of the Kiowa tribe:

The Great Mysterious One sent down a special messenger to Earth. He tapped upon a hollow log, calling to the inside:

“Teh’pdha!” (“Come out!”) [This was the name of the tribe until the death of the great chief Teh’pdha. Since he had never given his name to any one, according to custom, it could never be mentioned again. So the tribe was called Kiagu-dal-taga—People—Who-Came-Out— becoming Kiowa in the white man’s tongue.]

People immediately began to emerge. They kept on coming out and coming out until there were many of them. Came to the opening a pregnant woman. She could not get through, so no more people could get out. This is the reason the tribe is no larger.

The Messenger stayed among the creatures who had answered his call, and taught them how to kill animals and how to prepare their flesh for food and their skin for clothing. When he had showed them all the vegetables that were good to eat, he disappeared.

One day a girl was playing in the woods. Looking up into a tree she spied a porcupine. She determined to catch it. When she began to climb the tree it began to shoot upwards. It grew so rapidly that it soon reached the sky. Punching a hole through it, it went on growing until it carried the girl into the upper world.

There the porcupine revealed himself in his true character as the Sun Boy—the son of the Sun. [The Sun itself we commonly called Grandfather, a name also applied to the Great Mysterious One.] He married the girl and in due time a man-child was born to them.

Came a day when the three were out on the prairie. The Sun Boy discovered a prairie turnip, the top of which had been bitten off by a buffalo. He said to his wife,

“You must never touch a prairie turnip if the top of it has been bitten off.”

He wouldn’t give the reason for this command. The woman wanted to know, so one day when her husband’s back was turned, she pulled the turnip up by the roots.

It left a big whole in the ground through which she could look clear down to this world.

She had been so happy in the upper world with her husband she had forgotten ever having been elsewhere. But now she became heartsick for her old home.

She waited until her husband was not looking. Then to a bush near the hole she tied a rope, and with her boy in her arms let them down upon it towards this world.

She had almost reached it when her husband discovered the escape. Picking up a stone he threw it through the hole, struck the woman’s head and killed her.

Her boy dropped to this world unharmed.

The Old-Woman-Underground took care of him until he grew to manhood.

One day while he was playing a game with other young men, a sharp, flat stone thrown into the air fell on his head and split him in two. That made twins out of him.

Shortly afterward one of the pair walked under a lake. As he was disappearing, he said to the people:

“Some time I will return. I will stand upon a high hill. I will stamp my foot and cause the earth to tremble. I will cry with a loud voice and all of the dead Kiagus will come back and with their weapons drive their enemies from the land. And the Kiagus shall again occupy the world in peace.”

The other twin changed himself into the Great Medicine of the tribe, to whom he gave himself as a pledge of their future existence.

"But should you ever lose me,” he warned, “the tribe shall cease to be.”

Thenceforth this mystery—the Great Medicine— which was about eighteen inches in length, was kept in a buckskin bag in possession of the medicine men. In the front of battle it was always carried by a warrior, shotpouch fashion, to insure victory.

Once a warrior did not carry it in the right manner into a fight In consequence the triumph went to the enemy who carried the Great Medicine away.

Then the Kiowas became disheartened. The horses died and the dogs would no longer bark in the night time.

The warriors looked toward the earth and cried, “Eeah, eeah! The time has come when the tribe shall cease to be.”

Came Strong Medicine, a young warrior, who had been praying in solitude. He said to the people: “While I fasted and prayed The Great One spoke to me. He said: 'I will tell you a way whereby the Sacred Thing can be recovered and the tribe saved from destruction. Over the hill toward the sun-rising are men with hair on their faces. They have horses which whoop loudly. Capture those whooping horses, make shields out of their hides and war clubs out of their legs. Let the warriors arm themselves with them. Let them go toward the direction from which the shadows come when the sun walks down. There will they find the enemy who have the Sacred Medicine. Let the warriors charge unafraid upon them and they shall recover it! These are the words which were spoken to me!'

The warriors considered this. Then they said, “Let Strong Medicine lead and we will follow".’ Strong Medicine led and did the things directed. When he and his band arrived at the village of the enemy, they gave a mighty warwhoop and charged upon them, wielding their war clubs.

When the sun hid itself and the stars looked down and the prairie wolves came out and sang their night-song, all stiff and stark and bloody lay the mighty men of the Land of Shadows.


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