How do Momaday's reflections on the death of his grandmother help him communicate a message about his Kiowa culture?
Momaday is prompted to make a personal journey—and to write this book—after his grandmother Aho passes away. She had been his own last living link to the traditional ways of the Kiowa, their ancestors. He wants to visit her grave at Rainy Mountain, near the Wichita Range in southwestern Oklahoma. But he also wants to go back and trace the historic migration route of the Kiowa, from western Montana to South Dakota’s Black Hills and then to Oklahoma.
I wanted to see in reality what she had seen more perfectly in the mind’s eye, and [I] traveled fifteen hundred miles to begin my pilgrimage. (Introduction)
By doing so, and by weaving into his experience the stories and legends handed down through the generations, Momaday honors his past and all of those who have gone on before, including his grandmother. He can identify more with them now. He shows that their lives and their history matter. He also helps a new generation of readers better understand the Kiowa culture.