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date: 14 July 2020


  • Mary Riemer-Weller
  • , revised by Ann McFarland


Native American tribe of the southern Plains. During the 18th century the Kiowa migrated from western Montana to what is now Oklahoma; they adopted a nomadic existence typical of Plains dwellers. In the 2010s the Kiowa tribe had more than 12,000 members, the largest number living near Carnegie, Oklahoma.

During pre-reservation days the Kiowa economy was based largely on the buffalo hunt and the horse raid. The horse became the standard of wealth and a means of achieving social rank and status. Equally important were honors gained in warfare, which led to the development of warrior societies, each having its own set of rituals, dances, and songs. Music and dance also supported the institutions of raiding and warfare. Before leaving camp, for example, war parties performed the Buffalo Dance and addressed songs to the Buffalo Guardian spirit, a symbol of power and courage. On the return of a successful war party, the women performed the Scalp Dance in its honor. If any warrior did not return, the women performed the Mourning Dance instead. Kiowa servicemen are still honored on Veterans Day with a modern version of the Scalp Dance....

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