The author refers to a time when the Kiowa were living "their last great moments in history." What happened to end this period in Kiowa history?
The Way to Rainy Mountain is the telling of the rise and fall of one of North America's great nomadic tribes, the Kiowa. It tells how they began in the weather-beaten mountains of the north. From there they traveled and grew, in spirit and knowledge, until they arrived at the Wichita Mountains of the south.
They incorporated the religious views of other tribes and broadened their own philosophies. They learned to tame the wild horses and utilized them to improve their hunting and survival skills. In the process, they learned to embrace their nomadic lifestyle and thrive. When they united with the Comanche, the union proved to be a formidable ruling force over the plains for the better part of a century.
Then, the European-Americans set their sights on settling what is known today as the United States. The U.S. Cavalry was formed. Soon the Native Americans were hunted and contained. Not like the buffalo, for they were hunted for survival. The Kiowa and all Native American tribes were hunted and corralled like a pestilence. Their "last great moment in history" occurred when they surrendered in Palo Duro Canyon and became the spoils of war for the American soldiers.
This period in Kiowa history ended after tribal warriors were defeated in battle by the United States Cavalry.
The Kiowa warriors were initially driven southward toward the Staked Plains in the fall of 1874. Columns of troops came at the beleaguered tribe from all directions, prompting the Kiowa warriors to make camp at Elk Creek. Later, the tribe fought American troops at Palo Duro Canyon and were soundly routed. Many of the Kiowa warriors surrendered at Fort Sill. They were imprisoned, and their weapons and horses were confiscated.
The loss of the horses was a major reason the Kiowa tribe did not survive. By all estimates, the United States army killed 800 Indian ponies; meanwhile, another 2,000 horses were either given away, sold for profit, or stolen. While it is true that horses were the Kiowas' main means of transportation, the animals also allowed the Kiowas to hunt with greater efficiency and effectiveness. The horse allowed the average Kiowa to kill enough buffalo and deer in a day to sustain his family for a whole year. The destruction of the horses and the humiliating military defeat at the hands of the United States Cavalry led to the Kiowa tribe's extinction.