The Way to Rainy Mountain
Occasioned by the death of Momaday’s grandmother, Aho, who witnessed the last Kiowa Sun Dance in 1887, The Way to Rainy Mountain traces the history of the Kiowas from their emergence through a hollow log onto the arid North American plains. Momaday poetically recounts Kiowa devotion to the sacred Sun Dance doll, Tai-me. His apparent motive for writing was to draw the reader into his “journey” of recovery of the past as he partially creates his own “Indian” identity from the “fragmentary . . . mythology, legend, lore, and hearsay” found in books and family and tribal sources. The graphic arrangement of the work lets the reader piece together compelling fragments, much as Momaday did. Most left-hand pages contain short, traditional Kiowa tales, including stories of how the Kiowas acquired dogs, of Grandmother Spider and Arrowmaker, and of human-animal transformations. Right-hand pages feature brief selections from mainstream history texts and anthropological sources, presenting non-Indian views of the Kiowa; at the bottom of these pages, in italics, are personal, usually autobiographical statements that reveal the author’s perspective. These personal passages frequently pay tribute to Momaday’s grandmother, whose death and burial, for the author, mark a profound intersection of the unchangeable past, stretching from time immemorial, with the present, replete with creative possibilities. The bold, pen-and-ink...
(The entire section is 527 words.)