Throughout this entire National Native American Month, KFDX & Texoma’s Fox are proud to be able to shine a spotlight on several of the tribes that have histories in this area dating back hundreds of years.
We begin here with the Kiowas.
For the Tom Hanks movie, “News of the World” in 2020 that began in Wichita Falls, it was 89- year old Kiowa linguist, Dorothy Whitehorse Delaune who was brought on board to teach the customs and language of the Kiowa tribe.
“It’s one of the hardest languages to learn besides Navaho,” Whitehorse said. “The fascination to me was the little German girl. You could, I could sing a song like this and she would know it after you sing it about 3 or 4 times.” “I loved the story and that’s why I did it.”
Those on the set were very fortunate to have the last of a very special few among the Kiowas.
This long-time teacher of children in Anadarko was born in that same area in 1933, in a teepee.
Her father never spoke English was born in the 1870 ‘s, and she was the last of her Kiowa parents’ 12- children, learning to speak English when she was 6- years old.
“I grew up with no electricity, no running water, no air conditioning, just the Indian ways. My dad never left that. He led a society that never, ever quit their ceremonials.”
Dr. James Kennedye/Casino Operating Authority (Former Trustee) : “It is with eternal love and respect we want to give you this blanket for being here today, Dorothy.” “She sat on the laps of people who lived before the reservation and she listened to those stories and heard those songs, and there’s just almost nobody else to go to who can say that. She was literally there with the people who lived before we were on a reservation.”
“Passing on your culture to us,” Kennedye continued, “and we love you for it. So, (speaks kiowa).”
Whitehorse: “This is equivalent of a horse. A horse was the biggest a Kiowa could give.”
Kennedye: “You have to think about native Americans, we were the first people of these lands. We can prove pretty much we were here up to 25- thousand years ago. That’s a pretty profound statement. You know, we go back to the time of Christ, that was 2- thousand years ago, the time of the pyramids, maybe 5- thousand years ago. We’re talking 5- times longer than that natives have been here.”
From Montana and British Colombia, on the great plains down to South America, the Kiowas remained for the most part unchanged until their final removal from Palo Duro Canyon to Fort Sill around 1875.
Kennedye: “When they needed something they went and got it themselves for so, so long. Then, we were thrust on the reservation. They were thrust into a status of dependence. A lot of things come along with that. You can’t sing your songs anymore. You can’t dance your dances anymore. You can’t speak your language anymore. You can’t eat your foods anymore. You can’t be who you are. You can’t wear your clothes.”
So, there is a very big push to reach young Kiowa natives today.
Kennedye: “Hey speak your language, learn your culture, learn what’s going on and be proud of that, and carry that on. Don’t ever let it die.”
District 7 Legislator Warren Queton: “There is a disconnect there and so it is really, really important, especially for those people who live outside the reservation. I want them to know their identity as a Kiowa (speaks Kiowa). We are Kiowa people. I want them to know that.”
Dupoint: “You need to come around your people, your people, and at least live it, experience it.”
Like other tribes throughout Oklahoma, some much more than others depending on where reservation lines were drawn so long ago, Kiowas are now being helped by their three casinos.
Kennedye: Supports language programs, support elder programs, support housing, support education, scholarships for students. If someone needs an air conditioner in their house or needs a heater fixed in their house, they need their roof fixed, they can do things like that.
Whitehorse delaune: “All my grandmothers, everybody was my grandma, they’d be holding your hand, and 90- percent of them would say, (speaks in Kiowa), that means respect each other. I grew up with that in my head.”
The Kiowas, a proud, contemporary people who help one another, and who will not forget their values and history for future generations to come.
For more on Kiowa history, genealogy, and language, just contact The Department of Education at the Kiowa headquarters in Carnegie, or the museum that ‘s there too.
THE NUMBER IS 580-654-2300