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
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
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
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
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
“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.”
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
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.