Kiowa Changes: The Impact Of Transatlantic Influences
Moore, Paul James
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This study uses a transatlantic interpretive framework, addressing both Euro-American and Kiowa voices to understand Kiowa reactions to changes caused by ongoing transatlantic influences. From their Paleolithic days, the Kiowas faced the challenge of new ways. On the North American continent, they evolved into small hunter-gathering family units as vast grasslands arose from their fire-drives that increasingly reshaped their surroundings. The transatlantic Columbian Exchange, following Spanish discovery, provoked massive changes to Kiowa material culture as the horse produced a cultural revolution to their social and economic practices. Those changes required continued raiding for horses between 1830 and 1874 that exacerbated their relationship with the United States and resulted in restrictive treaties that increasingly limited their mobility. Thereafter, the Kiowa gradually became dependent upon government aid as a policy of concentration ended their nomadic horse-centered culture. During their reservation experience, Christian missionaries played an important role in assimilating Kiowa to Euro-American practices as well as religious beliefs. Although adjusted to reservation life, by the late 1890s the Kiowa were totally dependent upon rations and the will of Congress for their survival. Consequently, the federal government decided in 1901 to allot their lands to compel further change that destroyed their horse-centered culture. Economic survival demanded new paradigms that often ignored old tribal values. By the 1920s, in responses to acculturation, the challenge of economic self-sufficiency, and the inescapable allure of modernity, the Kiowa fully accepted their material integration into the non-Indian world as a second generation of Kiowa became self-sufficient. Consequently, they rejected the Indian New Deal. Nevertheless, thanks to John Collier's affirmation of Indian culture during the New Deal and the influences of World War II, a third generation of Kiowa reaffirmed their horse-centered ethos. By 1945, most Kiowa lived successfully in two worlds.