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ETHNONYMS: Caigua, Kioway, Manrhoat, Watapahato


Identification. "Kae-gua" (Kiowa plural) is an inflected form of an unanalyzable base; most historic appellations are variants of this form. Other traditional terms of self-reference include "Kwu' da" and "Tepda," both translated as "coming out, emerging"; and "Kompabianta," "big tipi-flaps" (explained as a reference to large smoke-hole flaps on Kiowa tipis).

Location. Throughout their recorded history, the Kiowa heartland has been between 35° and 37° N and 98° and 100° W in present-day Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and southern Kansas. This territory, intersected by tributaries of the Arkansas, Canadian, and Red rivers, was the region within which tribal summer encampments were located; at other times, bands could be more widely dispersed, and hunting, trading, and war parties traveled far from the heartland. Most Kiowa still live in this region of Oklahoma, centered around the towns of Anadarko and Carlisle.

Demography. Population may have been from 2,000 to 2,500 before contact. The first census, in 1875, reported 1,070 members, and numbers remained low in succeeding decades, reaching 1,699 in 1920. A 1970 tribal count of 6,250 included persons of part-Kiowa ancestry and the descendants of non-Kiowa individuals who were affiliated with the tribe in the treaty period; it is likely that no more than half of this number are of predominantly Kiowa descent. The 1980 census lists 7,386 individuals claiming Kiowa descent.

History and Cultural Relations

The Kiowa are identifiable by name beginning around 1800; earlier evidence is complicated by the uncertainty of some identifications (for example, the "Manrhoat" of 1682). Kiowa cultural identity was forged in the Great Plains after the adoption of the horse into the regional culture and possibly after the entry of European traders. The time, place, and circumstances of ethnogenesis present problems to scholars. Tradition points to a northern homeland, located in the yellowstone region of the Rocky Mountains; legendary accounts of emergence from an underworld and a long southward Migration continue to have strong emotional appeal to the Kiowa people. But serious efforts to trace Kiowa origins must also take into account their linguistic kinship to the Tanoan peoples of New Mexico, a connection that is echoed in cultural traits, including folklore motifs and details of Ceremonial life. On the other hand, sociopolitical organization shows convergence to a Plains type, with strongest points of similarity to north Plains and Plateau tribes such as the Teton Dakota, Kutenai, and Sarsi. A preliminary model of Kiowa ethnogenesis must locate the ancestral population in the south plains, adjacent to related Tanoans of the Rio Grande valley, at a time prior to the entry of Apacheans into the Region, about a.d. 1100 to 1300.

Subsequent expansion of the Apache in the plains had the effect of separating the ancestral Kiowa from their cogeners, forcing their retreat eastward and northward. A part of this population remained as far south as the Arkansas-Canadian drainage, within or marginal to their aboriginal hunting range, while others, either as refugees or in pursuit of trade, traveled as far as the Yellowstone valley. Historical records, including the journal of Lewis and Clark, confirm Kiowa claims of contacts with the Crow, Sarsi, and Cheyenne, and an association with the Black Hills region early in the nineteenth century. During the same years, Kiowa further south formed an alliance with the Comanche, who had displaced the Apache in the New Mexican borderlands region and were able to reestablish contacts with New Mexico. Throughout historic times, the Kiowa had a close relationship with the Kwahadi band of Comanche; they also maintained friendly ties with Taos and other New Mexican Pueblos in the west, and with the Wichita and other Caddoans in the east. They traded with most Plains tribes, claiming a special tie with the Crow. Although closely associated with the Kiowa Apache, relations were usually hostile with western Apachean groups, including the Navajo. In the east, the Osage were long-time enemies with whom the Kiowa finally made peace in 1837 under U.S. government pressure. Their geographical position enabled the Kiowa to deal with White traders in New Mexico and in the Mississippi valley; however, both hunting and trade declined before the treaty period.

In 1867, the Treaty of Medicine Lodge was made between the United States and the Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa Apache, who received combined reservation lands in Oklahoma. Despite outbreaks of violence during the following decade, and the arrest and imprisonment of their leaders, the Kiowa remained settled on lands within their traditional heartland. In 1892, under the Jerome Agreement, they accepted individual allotments of 160 acres plus a tribal bloc of grazing land; the agreement is unique in making provisions for non-Kiowa attached to the tribe to receive a share in tribal lands.


The nineteenth-century Kiowa followed a pattern of seasonal nomadism which was, at least in part, determined by the need for pasturage for their horse herds. From fall to early summer, the tribe dispersed; extended family groups formed the nuclei of bands, led by influential men or at times by brothers. The bands were flexible; small families and isolated individuals, whether related or not, might join the camp of a successful chief. During the summer months, the bands camped together for a period of several weeks; during this time, the Sun Dance ceremony was held. The site was always on a sizable stream and was chosen for its access to grass, firewood, and gameespecially bison. At an appointed time, the subtribes arrived in a prescribed order and took designated places in the camp circle. In the 1880s there were five Kiowa subtribes, with the Kiowa Apache occupying a sixth place in the circle. Until bison became scarce, the Sun Dance was the prelude to a communal hunt. Plans for the coming year were made during the summer encampment; band movements must have been coordinated, since messengers were able to travel quickly and directly between the scattered winter camps; a circuit to announce the time and place of the Sun Dance could be completed in about three days.


Subsistence and Commerciai Activities. The early Kiowa were hunters on a large scale and processed products of the hunt (robes, leather, horn, sinew, meat) both for subsistence use and for trade. They also raised and bred horses, supplementing their herds by raids into alien territories. The diet included bison, deer, and other game; wild plant foods such as berries and wild potatoes; and a substantial amount of maize, dried pumpkin, and other foods obtained in trade from both Indian and Hispanic populations of New Mexico.

Industrial Arts. The most notable traditional craft was the processing of leather, mainly performed by women. Clothing, moccasins and boots, and parfleches and other containers were made of bison and deerskins, and decorated with paint and beads.

Trade. The Kiowa were active traders and could be considered a semispecialized trading group. Trade parties traveled to New Mexico and all parts of the Great Plains, and are known to have gone frequently into Canada and Mexico. The natural pastures of the Kiowa provided a source of horses for northern tribes such as the Blackfoot, Sarsi, and Crow. From the time of La Salle, horses were delivered to White purchasers; in the nineteenth century, the Kiowa often dealt with U.S. military parties. Raiders returned from Mexico with horses and mules to supplement the herds and with other goods. Mexican textiles, weapons, and musical instruments were valued and became important as ceremonial attire; further, the Kiowa were known as purveyors as well as users of peyote, which they transported from Mexico. In 1835, the Kiowa in Oklahoma had a relationship with the Chouteau trading company of St. Louis, which built trading posts in Kiowa territory in the next decade. It is possible that an earlier tie to U.S. or British trading companies in the Missouri drainage led the Kiowa to the north, explaining their traditional claim to the Yellowstone country.

Division of Labor. Traditionally, men were hunters, horsemen, warriors, and traders; women collected plants, processed foodstuffs and hides, made clothing, and erected and maintained the skin lodges. In reality, male and female roles probably overlapped, and many men were frequently away for war or trade. Numerous captives did not form a servile class, but were adopted by Kiowa families; they did have a special ceremonial status, given the task of handling sacred artifacts that were taboo to full tribal members.

Land Tenure. Like other nomadic peoples, the Kiowa had a strong identification with their land but did not acknowledge individual tenure. The subtribes were essentially regional divisions; there is no indication that their territories were exclusive or strictly delimited. Private ownership of land began when treaty lands were apportioned in 1892.


Kin Groups and Descent. There are indications of an early shift from patrilineal to the bilateral descent that has prevailed since the nineteenth century. The kindred, as defined by prohibition of marriage, extended to third cousins or beyond. There is no indication of the existence of corporate descent groups.

Kinship Terminology. Early Kiowa kinship terminology is not well documented. A list published in 1923 reveals a bilateral system with Hawaiian cousin terminology. In the first ascending generation, bifurcate merging terminology suggests an original Iroquois system. Certain sibling and in-law terms were differentiated for male and female speaker; grandparent and grandchild terms were identical; and sibling terms were used between great-grandparent and great-grandchild. Kin terms were extended to all band members.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. Bands were, in effect, exogamous, since Marriage was prohibited to all classed as kin. Polygyny (usually sororal) was practiced; important chiefs often had several wives. The levirate was common, but not obligatory. Horses were the usual marriage gift, the number signifying the wealth and status of the groom. Divorce was common: a wife's kin might, with cause, remove her from the husband's household, or a marriage could end with absconding or elopement, followed by payment of compensation.

Domestic Unit. Residence was normally patrilocal; as one exception, a chief would give away a daughter to a promising young man, who then joined the camp of his father-in-law.

Inheritance. At death, personal possessions were destroyed. Horses (the only important form of private property) would normally pass from a man to his brother or son. Inheritance of a positionfor example, as band chief or Taime (priest)was preferably patrilineal but, in practice, was selective within the kindred. Custodianship of a medicine bundle might ideally go to a son, but in known cases this position passed to a variety of relations, male and female; a willingness to comply with the rigid demands of the position could influence the decision.

Socialization. Small children were, by all accounts, treated with affection and indulgence. The tie between siblings was emphasized; the brother-sister relationship took precedence over that of husband and wife. A favored child, male or female, was raised in status by a give-away of horses and property, and received special care and privileges. At around six years, all boys became members of the Rabbit Society and were instructed as a group in horsemanship and other skills; in adolescence they joined the adult military societies. Bravery, restraint, wisdom, and generosity were qualities admired in men and, to a degree, in women as well.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Status distinctions reflected wealth, warfare honors, and political power. Highest prestige went to chiefs of the largest bands and to religious leaders. The fact that many historic Kiowa chiefs bore names that were eponymous of the bear (such as White Bear, Many Bears, Sitting Bear) and were passed from generation to generation suggests a continuity in leadership that may, at an earlier time, have been vested in a lineage or other descent group. Women had fewer opportunities to achieve individual prestige; however, folklore and personal histories indicate that a high value was placed on strong, resourceful Kiowa women, whose importance in community life should not be underestimated. Excaptives had a marginal position but were able to achieve distinction in warfare and other pursuits.

Political Organization. Through most of the year, bands were largely independent; successful chiefs, who attracted and retained the largest following, had the greatest renown and influence. During the summer season, the Taime priest was in charge of the Sun Dance camp; order was maintained in the camp and during the hunt by military societies, which cut across the band membership but included all adult men of the tribe. For at least four generations, the Kiowa were politically unified under a head chief; the last to hold this rank was Dohasan (Little Bluff), who died in 1866. After his death, at the beginning of the reservation period, leadership became factionalized between chiefs such as Satanta (White Bear) and Lone Wolf, who resisted surrender, and others, including Kickingbird, who favored compromise. After a brief period of reservation life, the Kiowa were given individual allotments of land in 1892, and the area was opened to White settlement. A Kiowa Tribal Council, formed in 1969, represents Kiowa concerns in health, education, and economic development.

Social Control. The secular power of chiefs and military societies was complemented by the spiritual authority of the Taime and medicine bundle priests. Within the tribe, a serious affront might provoke revenge, but intervention by a priest prevented the escalation of quarrels. Offering the pipe and appealing to the fetishes served to invoke supernatural sanctions; violation of vows or a sanction imposed under these circumstances was potentially fatal, resulting in taido, an irreversible spiritual decline.

Conflict. In historic times, the importance attached to horses promoted intertribal raiding; hostilities often escalated through the avenging of death or injury. The Kiowa usually sought an intermediary to make peace with an enemy group. Chronic enmity toward the Apache and more recent hatred of Texans may have resulted from their expansion into Kiowa territory. Like other Plains tribes, the Kiowa suffered from the inroads of eastern Indians, such as the Cherokee and Shawnee, as these were moved westward in the nineteenth century.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. A pervasive underlying supernatural power was seen primarily in natural phenomena, which were personified and at times deified. The Kiowa revered the Sun, constellations such as the Pleiades, and natural forces such as the Cyclone, and gave special respect to the bison, bear, and eagle. Sendeh (or Sainday) is the main protagonist in Kiowa tales, as both culture hero and trickster; he has human rather than animal attributes. Spider Woman, Twin Heroes (Split Boys), and Coyote, suggestive of Southwestern affinities, appear in origin and explanatory tales. Personified natural forces and animal spirits were encountered in visionary experiences. Individuals sought power through the Sun Dance and personal visionary experiences. The Taime, an anthropomorphic effigy; medicine bundles; and several other fetishes were prominent in hunting, curing, and purification rites. In 1873, Quaker mission efforts began among the Kiowa, followed by Methodist, Baptist, and other denominations. The Native American Church also increased in importance as the Sun Dance and other hunting and war ceremonies declined. Protestant affiliation is now the norm; however, traditional practices continue and have experienced revival. As in earlier days, tribal ceremonies are concentrated in the summer, now centered on July 4.

Religious Practitioners. The Taime and medicine bundle priests were subject to numerous taboos and requirements of circumspect behavior. The Taime was housed in a special tipi and carried in public display by its priest; a select group of men, who had received visions, assisted him. Owners of the ten medicine bundles were called upon to intervene in disputes and could give sanctuary. Buffalo doctors were especially qualified to treat illness attributed to violation of taboos on the bear.

Ceremonies. The Sun Dance was held annually until 1887 when it was prohibited by the government and halted by military force. Other traditional dances, such as those of the warrior societies, also performed in the summer season, are now part of the July 4 celebration. A scalp dance followed the return of men from war; curing ceremonies were held at any time. The Feather Dance, the Kiowa response to the Ghost Dance movement, became institutionalized as the Invisible 00Church and held semiannual dances until prohibited in 1916; beliefs and iconography were a blend of Kiowa tradition and Christian influences. Some vestiges of this movement carried over into sectarian Christian churches. Peyotism now follows the pan-Indian ceremonialism of the Native American Church.

Arts. Tipi covers were often decorated with designs that symbolized the accomplishments of the owner; these designs, handed down through generations of the same family, constituted a type of heraldic emblem. The painted designs of Sun Dance shields also had symbolic significance, related to membership in warrior or medicine societies. Calendar histories, painted on buffalo hide, depicted important events of successive summer and winter periods; these are a valuable source of information about the nineteenth-century Kiowa. More recently, individual Kiowa have shown remarkable talent in graphic arts; a group known as the "Kiowa Five" (Spencer Asah, Stephen Mopope, Jack Hokeah, James Auchiah, and Monroe Tsatoke) became internationally recognized early in the present century, setting a pattern for Kiowa successes in the arts; literary artists include the poet N. Scott Momaday. Kiowa craftsmen have been active in the production of jewelry and silverwork based on traditional designs and marketed through the Oklahoma Indian Arts and Crafts Cooperative.

Medicine. The sweatbath was used for curing and for ritual purification. Ill health as well as misfortune was often seen as the result of supernatural harm or the violation of taboo. Certain older women served as herbalists and midwives, assisting with difficult births. Buffalo doctors and other curers received power through visionary experiences; shamanistic methods were used in healing.

Death and Afterlife. The elderly and disabled were abandoned if they could no longer travel. Mourning involved slashing of clothing, gashing the skin, cropping the hair; women might amputate finger joints. The dead were buried, preferably in a remote, isolated spot. Personal property of the deceased was destroyed and the name tabooed, unless bestowed on an heir before death.


Boyd, Maurice, ed. (1981-1983). Kiowa Voices. 2 vols. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press.

Mooney, James (1898). Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians. U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology, 17th Annual Report (1895-1896), 129-445. Washington, D.C.

Parsons, Elsie C. (1929). Kiowa Tales. American Folklore Society, Memoir no. 22. New York.

Richardson, Jane (1940). Law and Status among the Kiowa Indians. American Ethnological Society, Monograph no. 1. New York.


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KIOWA. Classified in the Uto-Aztecan language family, Kiowa is remotely linked to the Tanoan languages of the Eastern Pueblos. This suggests divergence and prehistoric northward migrations to the mountainous Yellowstone River region of western Montana, the ancestral lands of the pre-contact hunting-and-gathering Kiowa.

Migrations and Alliances to the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Leaving their homelands in the late seventeenth century in search of horses, the Kiowa and an affiliated group of Plains Apache migrated southeastward, befriending the Crow, reaching the Black Hills (in present-day South Dakota) around 1775, and then establishing trading relations with the Mandan and Arikara before the Lakota and Cheyenne drove them south to the Arkansas River. At the time of the first direct contact with whites in the late eighteenth century, the Kiowa had relocated to the Southwestern Plains. They numbered barely two thousand individuals and were compelled to form an alliance with the more numerous Comanche between 1790 and 1806. Like the Comanche, the Kiowa fashioned a lucrative equestrian raiding economy in the lands of mild winters and ample grazing that were within striking distance of Spanish settlements in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico. The Kiowa, Comanche, and Plains Apache (KCA Indians) coalition fought common northern enemies, particularly the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Pawnee. By 1840, additional intertribal alliances had been forged with the Osage, Lakota, and Cheyenne.

By the mid-nineteenth century, the KCA Indians dominated the Southwestern Plains: the Kiowa and Plains Apache inhabited the northern region adjacent to the Arkansas River in present-day west-central Kansas, and the Comanche controlled the Staked Plains region of the Texas Panhandle. Intertribal raiding parties skirmished with Ute, Navajo, and Pawnee enemies, and plundered Mexican and Texan settlements for livestock and captives.

Decline and Dependency

KCA hegemony, however, waned after the Civil War. Squeezed between rapidly expanding Euro-American settlements in Texas, Colorado, and Kansas, the Kiowa and Comanche signed the Little Arkansas Treaty of 1865, forfeiting lands in Kansas and New Mexico. In 1867, provisions of the Medicine Lodge Treaty reserved almost three million acres for the group; the lands encompassed the Wichita Mountains in southwestern Oklahoma. Residing exclusively within the confines of the KCA Reservation proved difficult, however, and raiding sorties into Texas inevitably provoked military responses from the U.S. Army. These conflicts culminated in the Red River War of 1874 and 1875, after which the Kiowa and their allies were forced to reside permanently on their reserve.

KCA subsistence changed after 1879 with the extinction of the Southern Plains bison herds, rendering the Indians totally dependent on rations and beef issues provided by the Kiowa Agency. Subsequent efforts to transform the Kiowa into farmers and ranchers failed, and hunger often resulted from inadequate government assistance. Leasing reservation grasslands to Texas cattlemen starting in 1886 brought temporary solace until the September 1892 arrival of the Jerome Commissioners (David H. Jerome, former governor of Michigan; Warren G. Sayre of Indiana; and Alfred M. Wilson of Arkansas), who forced the KCA Indians into agreeing to take individual 160-acre allotments and sell surplus reservation lands to white settlers. The Kiowa protested this fraudulent agreement because it violated the terms of the Medicine Lodge Treaty. Their protest reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lost in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (1903). Ironically, the decision came seventeen months after the "opening" by lottery of the 2.8 million–acre KCA Reservation to settlement on 6 August 1901. Inhabiting clusters of allotments north of the Wichita Mountains, early twentieth-century Kiowa meagerly survived on subsistence hunting and fishing and per capita interest payments for former reservation lands; some even worked as manual laborers on their own allotments, leased to non-Indian farmers.

Kinship System

Nineteenth-century Kiowa kinship typified what anthropologists call Hawaiian systems that distinguish relatives by sex and generation; with exceptions, the Kiowa grouped kin into generation sets of grandparents, parents, siblings, and children. Cousins are still reckoned as "brothers" and "sisters." Indicative of Hawaiian kinship systems, the Kiowa acknowledged bilateral descent and formed kindreds, extended family groups usually led by the oldest brother. Pre-reservation Kiowa society consisted of from approximately ten to twenty kindreds representing the prominent, or ondedw (rich) Kiowa families, along with ondegup'a (second best), kwwn (poor), and dapom (worthless) families. Marriage alliances were based on wealth in horses, materials, and the reputation and war accomplishments of family leaders. Postnupital residence patterns

preferred the wealthier of the two families. Leaders of each prominent kindred, or band, were called topadok'i (main chief), derived from the Kiowa word topadoga (band).

Notable among band leaders, Dohasan "Little Bluff" was the undisputed principal Kiowa chief from 1833 until his death in early 1866, after which leadership presumably passed to Guipago, "Lone Wolf," although Tene-angopte, "Kicking Bird," and Set-t'ainte, "White Bear," led rival factions until the Kiowa surrendered in May 1875. Afterward, the topadok'i were relegated to serving as "beef chiefs" responsible for the distribution of meat to their families. The allotment period further eroded traditional leadership as former bands settled into various enclaves largely in later Kiowa and Caddo counties in Oklahoma, where approximately one-half of the nearly ten thousand Kiowa live.

Belief Systems

Traditional Kiowa belief systems centered around dw_dw_ (power), a spirit force that permeated the universe, and was present in all natural entities inhabited by spirits or souls. Young men fasted in the Wichita Mountains and other elevated areas seeking dw_dw_ from the spirit world. Those fortunate enough to receive power visions became either great warriors or curers who painted their power symbols on war shields, and often formed shield societies. Besides personal medicine bundles associated with individual dw_dw_, tribal bundles included the talyida-i (boy medicine) or Ten Medicines, whose keepers were civil servants who settled domestic disputes and prayed for the well-being of the people, and the Taime, or Sun Dance icon central to the renewal ceremony that united the people socially and spiritually. The Sun Dance had collapsed by 1890 because of the extinction of the Southern Plains bison herds and government pressures. The Ghost Dance movement of 1890–1891 and 1894–1916 and the advent of the peyote religion after 1870 filled the spiritual void following the collapse of the horse and buffalo culture. At the end of the twentieth century, most Kiowa attended Baptist and Methodist churches and Native American Church peyote ceremonies.

The Kiowa still venerate warfare, as indicated by the many twentieth-century Kiowa combat veterans, and by the number who continue to serve in the U.S. armed forces. Notable Kiowa include N. Scott Momaday, awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for 1969, and Everette Rhoads, former U.S. assistant surgeon general.


Mishkin, Bernard. Rank and Warfare among the Plains Indians. 1940. Reprint. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

Mooney, James. Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians. 1895–1896. Reprint. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979.

Richardson, Jane. Law and Status among the Kiowa Indians. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1940.

Benjamin R.Kracht

See alsoDawes General Allotment Act ; Indian Land Cessions ; Indian Reservations ; Indian Treaties ; Indians and the Horse ; Indians in the Military ; Native American Church ; Nativist Movement (American Indian Revival Movements) ; Red River Indian War ; Sun Dance ; Tribes: Great Plains ; Wars with Indian Nations: Later Nineteenth Century (1840–1900) .

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Kiowa (kī´əwə), Native North Americans whose language is thought to form a branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). The Kiowa, a nomadic people of the Plains area, had several distinctive traits, including a pictographic calendar and the worship of a stone image, the taimay. In the 17th cent. they occupied W Montana, but by about 1700 they had moved to an area SE of the Yellowstone River. Here they came into contact with the Crow, who gave the Kiowa permission to settle in the Black Hills. While living there, they acquired (c.1710) the horse, probably from the Crow. Their trade was mainly with the Arikara, the Mandan, and the Hidatsa. After the invading Cheyenne and the Sioux drove the Kiowa from the Black Hills, they were forced to move south to Comanche territory; in 1790, after a bloody war, the Kiowa reached a permanent peace with the Comanche. According to Lewis and Clark, the Kiowa were on the North Platte River in 1805, but not much later they occupied the Arkansas River region. Later the Kiowa, who allied themselves with the Comanche, raided as far south as Durango, Mexico, attacking Mexicans, Texans, and Native Americans, principally the Navajo and the Osage.

In 1837 the Kiowa were forced to sign their first treaty, providing for the passage of Americans through Kiowa-Comanche land; the presence of settlers in increased numbers accelerated hostilities. After 1840, when the Kiowa made peace with the Cheyenne, four groups—the Kiowa, the Cheyenne, the Comanche, and the Apache—combined to fight the eastern tribes, who had migrated to Indian Territory. This caused more hostility between Native Americans and the U.S. government, and U.S. forces finally defeated the confederacy and imposed the Treaty of Medicine Lodge (1867). This confederated the Kiowa, the Comanche, and the Apache and provided that they should settle in Oklahoma. However, parts of the Kiowa remained hostile until the mid-1870s. Oncoming American settlers, unaware of treaty rights, caused friction with the Kiowa, resulting in a series of minor outbreaks. In 1874 the Kiowa were involved in a serious conflict, which was suppressed by the U.S. army. American soldiers killed the horses of the Kiowa, and the government deported the Kiowa leaders to Florida. By 1879 most of them were settled on their present lands in Oklahoma. The Kiowa Apache, a small group of North American Native Americans traditionally associated with the Kiowa from the earliest times, now live with them. The Kiowa Apache retain their own language. There were close to 9,500 Kiowa in the United States in 1990.

See R. H. Lowie, Societies of the Kiowa (1916); A. L. Marriott, Kiowa Years (1968); M. P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (rev. ed. 1972).

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Ki·o·wa / ˈkīəwə/ • n. (pl. same or -was) 1. a member of an American Indian people of the southern plains of the U.S., now living mainly in Oklahoma. 2. the language of this people, related to the Tanoan group. 3. (in full Kiowa Apache) an Athabaskan (Apache) language of western Oklahoma and neighboring areas. • adj. of or relating to this people or these languages.

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Kiowa Major tribe of Tanoan-speaking Native North Americans who moved from their earlier Yellowstone–Missouri River homeland into the southern Plains region, where they eventually allied with the Comanche and Arapaho. Today the descendants of the Kiowa live mostly in Oklahoma.

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