The significance of the title lies in the meaning that the narrator finds on a pilgrimage as he retraces the history of his grandmother's people, the Kiowa.
Author N. Scott Momaday's journey is to his grandmother's grave "at the end of a long and legendary way." He travels fifteen hundred miles on this pilgrimage, as he perceives in reality much of what she saw appeared "more perfectly in the mind's eye." He retraces the history of the Kiowa tribe, who were driven across the Plains into Oklahoma. The tribe began in the Montana area, came into the Plains in the seventeenth century, and met the Crows, who befriended them and introduced them to the culture of the Plains. There, the Kiowas learned to ride horses and
their ancient nomadic spirit was suddenly free of the ground. They acquired Tai-me, the sacred Sun Dance doll, from that moment the object and symbol of their worship, and so shared in the divinity of the sun.
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