Scott Momaday, in the memoir The Way to Rainy Mountain, traces the ancestral roots of his tribe back to the start of the Kiowa tribe. Momaday has always known his ancestry, but the death of Aho, his grandmother, prompt him to seek an in depth personal exploration of his family history and background. Therefore, Momaday goes back to his Grandmother's residence, and he notes that the spirit of the tribe of Kiowa is very strong. Momaday goes back to this house so as to build a connection with the ancestors of this tribe. He feels that he will learn a lot of things from his visit to the motherland. This memoir is an embodiment of the Kiowa culture, and Scott Momaday gives the reader a succession of oral narratives from the Kiowa community. Presently, these stories are written down. These stories tend to link and form a narration of the entire lifespan of the Kiowa people (from the beginning to an end). The information given in this memoir provides the explanations needed to understand the Kiowa culture. Each story is accompanied with a short description of the accurate events upon which the story is based. Together, these stories and the facts provided intertwine to create a total depiction of the Kiowa lifestyle.
Significance of Kiowa Culture
The culture of the Kiowa people is very important. Momaday describes the nomadic life of the Kiowa community (Momaday 602). They were known to be fierce warriors, and they opposed the whites from settling in their lands. They raided the southern Plains, and they captured settlements and stole horses. However, this lifestyle was dismantled by the defeat of the Kiowa in 1874. These people hunted buffalos for food. The buffalos, after some time, became rare, and these people had to switch to another lifestyle. They started to adapt to the cultures of the neighboring people, and this marked the start of the declination of the Kiowa culture (Momaday 601).
The culture of the Kiowa had a very strong impact and significance to Aho, Momaday’s grandmother. For instance, the ghost dance marked the beliefs of the Kiowa people. Many Kiowa people were massacred in the war with the whites. The ghost dance was an expression of the hope that the Kiowa people had; they came up with this dance as a sign that they believed in the reunion with the lost kin. The Kiowa people believed that the white people will leave, and the Kiowa people will be reunited with the lost ones. Then, they will have material abundance, and they will live in peace. Aho had lost a lot of relatives, and the ghost dance gave her hope of reunion with the lost relatives. Therefore, this makes her very religious, and she prays emotionally to the ancestors. However, the whites felt that this dance could lead to an Indian uprising, and the dance was banned. The people ignored this warning, and the whites, at one time, massacred 300 Lakota Indians. This marked the end of the ghost dance.
The sun dance is also an embodiment of the culture of the Kiowa people. Particularly, this dance is very important since it showed the interconnectedness between nature and people. The community performs this dance to show appreciation for nature. The dance’s intention is to ensure harmonious coexistence between people and the nature. Aho, Scott Momaday’s grandmother witnessed this dance, and it helped her to create a strong bond with the nature. This dance was a symbolic representation to show that death and life were entwined (Momaday 603). Aho also participates in this dance to show continuity of the cultural heritage. This dance showed that Aho was still united with the ancestors, and she remembered the ancestors through such cultural dances. In addition, the dances were important since they brought people together; the whole society communed to take part in this cultural exercise.
Scott Momaday and the Kiowa Culture
Momaday seeks to understand the Kiowa culture through experience, so he travels to his ancestral land. He believes that this experience will make him understand the Kiowa culture in a better manner. In this journey, Scott notes that the Kiowa had a very deep love for nature. He describes the natural surroundings of the River Mountain, and he says that his ancestors had a deep love for nature. In this journey, Momaday recounts that the Kiowa people sought to preserve the environment. They relied on the environment for food, but the invasion of the whites changed this. First, the buffalos started to get extinct, and the Kiowa had to look for alternative sources of food. They abandoned their hunting, and they became integrated in farming activities. This made Momaday understand the transition of the Kiowa people from nomads to farmers and other professions. Scott Momaday also understands the migration of the Kiowa people to other places like Oklahoma.
Scott Momaday also feels compelled to study the history of the Kiowa people to understand his ancestry. Evidently, he knows lots of these people’s history, but he has not experienced that culture. Therefore, he sets out on a pilgrimage to discover this culture, first hand. Through this journey, Momaday discovers that a lot has changed. Many people of the Kiowa origin have dispersed throughout the world. He discovers that there is a lot of cultural transition in all societies since he has also integrated in other cultures. In fact, this essay starts and ends with an aspect of transition.