In what ways did meeting the Crow change the Kiowas' way of life?

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The Crow, both literally and metaphorically, is an instrumental and profound symbol to many Native American nations, including the Kiowa tribe. Crow and its natural color of black are representative of attributes of change, power, and wisdom.

Crows and ravens have distinctive qualities that lend themselves to folklore from around the world, and they are often symbolized as creatures that bring death. To understand how this may relate to the Kiowa people, you must understand how death is interpreted—as change and transcendence—as old thoughts and perspectives can “die,” they give way to new life and new beliefs.

Such as other cultural beliefs, traditional Native American people believe that death is not permanence, and change is embraced. Crows will often be represented as the animal which can fly between two worlds: the present one and the one beyond.

Crow has special significance when it makes an appearance in the creation myth of the Kiowa people. Crow as spirit messenger informs the people about the powers of the sun. A sacred bundle, which can be comprised of objects, herbs, and earth elements, was created to honor the importance of Crow’s teachings of the sun.

The teachings and the bundle evolved into a sacred ceremony, known as the “Sun Dance.” The Sun Dance is the most powerful ritual of the tribes from the plains, including Kiowa. This ritual, though thought to have been outlawed and banned more than one hundred years ago, is still practiced among tribes today on an annual basis and can last several days. The Sun Dance is performed for a variety of reasons: to honor the ancestors, to ask the Creator for guidance, to restore community, to be of service, and to create needed change.

In addition, the Crow nation people are closely tied to the Kiowa nation, which might explain an added significance or the symbolism of Crow and “crow medicine.” As the story goes, in the 1700s, an Arapaho man married into the Kiowa tribe and had been previously been given a talisman from the Crow called “Tai-me.” The Arapaho man subsequently made two other effigies, though through feuding and wars with neighboring Utes and Osages, two were stolen. The last remaining Tai-me was recorded to be kept by a Kiowa woman in the late 1800s. The keeper of Tai-me would officiate the ritual at the beginning of the Sun Dance.

Crow nation and Crow "medicine" are important to the Kiowa, both literally and symbolically.

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When one speaks about the Crow, one is speaking about the second part of the Kiowa creation myth, imperative to the Kiowa religion. The Kiowa creation myth actually has two parts: one about "Boy Medicine," otherwise known as the Talyi-da-i bundles, and one about the sacred Tai-me bundle. The wisdom of the Crow has to do with the way the Tai-me bundle became sacred.

The Crow can be considered a minor character in the Kiowa creation myth. The Crow comes as a messenger in order for the Kiowa to learn about the importance of the Sun. The Kiowa tribe learns quickly, and befriends a strange and wild creature named Tai-me which becomes the main focus of their Sun Dance. In fact, Tai-me is often considered the "god of the Sun Dance." Even though Tai-me flew back to the Sun, Tai-me remains with the Kiowa in the form of a stone statue that is kept in a bundle all year. This special statue is revealed only on one day a year: the day of the Sun Dance. On this day, the statue of Tai-me is suspended from a pole in the Sun Dance lodge for the people to worship. 

In conclusion, meeting the Crow changed the Kiowa way of life by teaching the tribe to worship the Sun, providing the tribe with a sacred object (the statue) for veneration, and suggesting a special form of worship: the Sun Dance.

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