In the Prologue, Momaday tells the story of the Kiowa's last Sun Dance in 1887. He tells this story through the eyes of his grandmother, who was then seven, to make it more accessible to the reader. He also relates the last time the Kiowa came together to commemorate the Sun Dance, even though they did not have a buffalo, as was their tradition. Instead, they hung a hide from a tree as a remembrance of the buffalo, and soldiers came from Fort Sill to disrupt the Kiowas' ritual. Momaday writes:
"Forbidden without cause the essential act of their faith, having seen the wild herds slaughtered and left to rot upon the ground, the Kiowas backed away forever from the medicine tree...My grandmother was there. Without bitterness, and for as long as she lived, she bore a vision of deicide" (page 2).
In other words, the Kiowas at this ceremony witnessed the death of their gods, or "deicide," and they no longer could observe their rituals in the way they wanted to. The means by which they could find the sacred in life was gone forever. The way in which Momaday relates his grandmother's sadness about the destruction she and her people witnessed is to show her praying. He observes her praying when he is young. Though he does not understand Kiowa, he understands that "there was something inherently sad in the sound, some merest hesitation upon the syllables of sorrow" (page 2). By relating the images and sounds of his grandmother praying, he is able to relate how the history of the Kiowa affected her and to make the history of the tribe more accessible to the reader.