Rainy Mountain is important because it is an old Kiowa landmark. The story itself is important because it highlights Kiowa history and culture. In this short historical memoir, Momoday traces for his readers the nomadic characteristics of the Kiowa tribe and the soul-wrenching loss of Kiowa autonomy and determinism.
He starts by telling us about the beauty of the scenery surrounding Rainy Mountain. His words are reverent, awe-inspired.
Your imagination comes to life, and this, you think, is where Creation was begun.
He then introduces us to his grandmother, chronicling her life for us. Her birth and certain periods of her childhood coincided with important moments in Kiowa history. At the time of her birth, Momoday tells us that the 'Kiowas were living the last great moments of their history.' Although they were skilled horsemen, the Kiowas still succumbed to the 'unrelenting advance of the US Calvary.' The warriors surrendered at Fort Sill, and Momoday tells us that his grandmother was thankfully spared the great humiliation of witnessing this bitter defeat and the subsequent incarceration of her people.
Momoday then relates the old legend of how the Kiowas came to be and how their nomadic ways allowed them to acquire a sense of destiny, courage, and pride. With an acquired religion, horses, and Tai-me, the Sacred Sun Dance doll, the Kiowas became masters of their own greatness. He remembers that his grandmother was seven when the last Kiowa Sun Dance was held at the Washita River above Rainy Mountain Creek. The year was 1887. At ten, she was present when the Kiowas forever lost their Sun Dance culture. American troops had been ordered to disperse any Kiowa gathering for such purposes. The year was 1890.
Bereft of their cherished traditions and the comfort of their religious rituals, the Kiowa people lost their will and their direction. Momoday contends that his grandmother would always bear the vision of deicide in her mind for as long as she lived.
So, you can see that through chronicling the life of his grandmother, Momoday is able to relate to his readers the story and the suffering of the Kiowa people; through her experiences we also experience the struggles of her people to endure and to thrive.
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