The Way to Rainy Mountain was published by Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday in 1969. The work explores Momoday's heritage as a Kiowa through traditional stories, especially as told by his grandmother, and through his own personal experience.
Momaday's work, although readers experience it in mechanically reproduced printed form, seeks to be a continuation of Kiowa oral traditional culture into the present age. This means that it offers readers a dual vision, being seen through both textually mediated European and oral traditional Native American perspectives. The presence of Momaday in the work is the living link between these two worlds, enabling readers to see this cultural hybridity from the inside.
One distinctive characteristic of oral traditions is that they are not dead and fossilized into a fixed form on a page but are constantly changing and evolving as tales are told and retold and assimilated into ever-changing circumstances. Momaday's own story is part of this evolving tradition, handed down from his grandparents to him and from him to his readers. The presence of Momaday in the work makes it a living work of continually evolving tradition, shaping the present and future, and constantly changing as an active part of the Kiowa life in the world, rather than simply an anthropological study of the past. By sharing his own story, Momaday keeps the tradition alive, hands it down, and preserves its authentic spirit.