What are your impressions of Momaday's grandmother Aho?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because this is a personal question, it is important that you add your own impressions; however, I am certainly willing to let you know my own impressions of Momaday's grandmother, Aho. My impressions are that Aho is a devout member of the Kiowa tribe of Native Americans both in regards to heritage as well as in regards to religion. There are quite a few direct quotations from The Way to Rainy Mountain that led to these impressions.

[Aho] belonged to the last culture to evolve in North America. Her forebears came down from the high country in Western Montana nearly three centuries ago. ... The continental interior [of Rainy Mountain] lay like memory in her blood.

This quotation puts Aho's Kiowa heritage into perspective for the reader. It is an ancient culture revealed by Momaday's ancient relative. It is here that we learn this book is about the Kiowa: their myth, their history, and their personal stories. Further, there are other quotations that show more specific references to both heritage and religion:

Now that I can have her only in memory, I see my grandmother in the several postures that were peculiar to her: standing at the wood stove on a winter morning . . . sitting at the south window, bent above her beadwork . . . going out upon a cane, very slowly as she did when the weight of age came upon her; praying. I remember her most often at prayer.

Here we see Aho keeping her Kiowa heritage alive through three things: cooking, crafting, and praying. All three have to do with the Kiowa heritage, but the last one, prayer, has much to do with the Kiowa religion. When Aho prays, one can be sure she is praying to the Sun Dance god called Tai-me. We know this because Momaday shares Aho's memories of the last two Sun Dances she attended when she was just a child. 

One Sun Dance that Aho attended when she was seven was both beautiful and complete. The effigy of Tai-me was suspended on a pole in the Sun Dance lodge for all to worship, and the rituals were able to be completed. The next Sun Dance that Aho attended when she was ten was left incomplete due to the invasion by the soldiers at Fort Sill. 

In conclusion, then, my impression of Aho is that she is a devout member of the Kiowa tribe due to her focus upon both heritage and religion. Further, she is a loving and doting grandmother in that she is willing to share these important stories with her grandson, Momaday.

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The Way to Rainy Mountain

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