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Compiled by Snow Owl September 2004

The Kiowa are a Plains Indians who speak a Kiowa-Tanoan language.

Kiowa tradition speaks of a migration in the company of the Kiowa APACHE into the Plains from the headwaters of the Missouri River during the 18th century.

At that time they were organized in 10 independent bands and numbered an estimated 3,000.

The ARAPAHO, CHEYENNE, and Dakota (SIOUX) pushed them out of the Black Hills region southwestward into their historic range along the headwaters of the Arkansas, Cimarron, Canadian, and Red rivers.

There they met and at first fought the COMANCHE, but, from c.1790, Kiowa and Comanche shared territories and together raided settlements in Texas and New Mexico. Their raids furnished horses and mules for trade with northern Plains tribes.

Although the Kiowa accepted a restricted range between the Washita and Red rivers at the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867, tribal resistance continued.

Since 1875, however, the Kiowa have adapted to reservation life in Oklahoma.

"Kiowa and Wichita Horn Dance"
TMI number 00543
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898
Omaha Public Library, 1998

The Kiowas are a nation of Native Americans Native Americans who lived mostly in the plains of west Texas Currently the Kiowa Nation is a registered tribe, with about 6000 members living in southwestern Oklahoma in 1989

"Joe Hunter (Kiowa)"
TMI number 00578
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898
Omaha Public Library, 1998

The Kiowas originated in the northern basin of the Missouri River , but migrated south to the Black Hills

TMI number 00579
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898
Omaha Public Library, 1998

The Comanches and Kiowas formed a deep bond; the peoples hunted, travelled, and made war together. An additional group, the Kiowa Apaches, also affiliated with the Kiowas at this time.

"Chief White Man (Kiowa)"
TMI number 00613
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898
Omaha Public Library, 1998

The Kiowas lived a not atypical Plains Indian lifestyle. Mostly nomadic, they survived on buffalo meat and gathered vegetables, living in teepees

A tipi, or tepee, is a conical tent originally made of skins and popularised by the American Indians of the Great Plains.

Today, they are usually covered in canvas and lived in by hippies in the world's rich countries. Fields full of tepees are a signature vista of the rainbow family of living light.

Chief White Man's Wife and Chavi's Wife (Kiowa Apache)
TMI number 00616
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898
Omaha Public Library, 1998

The Kiowa were notorious for long-distance raids as far north as Canada The Medicine Lodge Treaty was a treaty that the United States of America signed with the Kiowa, Comanche, Kiowa-Apache, Cheyenne, and Arapaho at Medicine Lodge, Kansas in 1867.

TMI number 00977
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898
Omaha Public Library, 1998

What is known as the Medicine Lodge Treaty actually consisted of three separate treaties. The first was signed October 21, 1867 by the Kiowa and Comanche tribes.

The second, with the Kiowa-Apache, was signed the same day, while the Cheyenne and Arapaho signed the third on October 28.

Kiowa/Comanche Breastplate

1901 Kiowa land in Oklahoma was opened for white settlement, effectively dissolving the contiguous reservation.

While each Kiowa head of household was allotted 80 acres, the only land remaining in Kiowa tribal ownership today is what was the scattered parcels of 'grass land' which had been leased to the white settlers for grazing before the reservation was opened for settlement.

The Kiowa language is usually grouped with Tanoan languages into a family of Kiowa-Tanoan languages, despite great cultural differences between the Kiowas and the various groups who speak Tanoan languages.


See additional article on Satanta, Kiowa leader in the 1800's.

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