Opening Poem and also Prologue

In the brief opening poem “Headwaters,” the poet observes little signs the life at noon on a high plain and reflects top top the trip of water beneath and through the land.

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In the Prologue, Momaday, the author, recalls the journey of the Kiowa people and also explains the journey’s importance. He explains the northern starts of the Kiowa and identifies them through the sun Dance. He acknowledges the Kiowa’s decrease after the wild buffalo herds were destroyed but claims that the Kiowa once had a noble and fulfilling culture. The author introduces Tai-me, who came to the Kiowas in a vision. That summarizes Kiowa migrations, during which they acquired horses, adopted Plains society and religion, and developed a feeling of their very own identity.

Momaday then expands the principle of the journey to incorporate journeys of imagination, memory, personal history, and culture. He defines that the trip evokes the landscape, the passing of time, and the endurance of the person spirit and invites reader to think the the means to Rainy hill as numerous journeys in one. He ends the Prologue with a beautiful storage of the sunlight Dance from lengthy ago.


Momaday recounts his very own journey to Rainy hill to visit his grandm Aho’s grave. He reflects on his grandmother’s lengthy life; on her parents and grandparents, who experienced the damage of their culture; and on her ancestors, proud warriors who once ruled the southerly Plains. That tells just how the Kiowa got Tai-me, the sacred Sun run doll.

To reach merganser Mountain, Momaday complies with his ancestors’ migrations. Indigenous the Yellowstone region, he descends eastern through the high plains to with the black color Hills. He recalls his grandmother’s story around a boy that turns right into a bear and also his 7 sisters that turn right into stars. The advent includes a paint showing a bear at the base of Devil’s Tower, with the huge Dipper in the sky.

Momaday explains his grandmother’s reverence for the sun and also shares memory of she praying. In ~ her quiet old house, he recalls sound of laughter, feasting, talk, and also prayer when the home was filled v people. In ~ night, sitting exterior the house, he sees a cricket perched nearby, v the moon behind it. The next morning, Momaday access time his grandmother’s grave and sees the mountain. The advent ends v a bold painting that mirrors a cricket fastened in a circle.

The setup Out


The Kiowa legend tells how a small variety of Kiowa human being entered the world through a hollow log, leaving numerous others behind. They to be glad to see the world and also called themselves Kwuda, or “coming out.”

Momaday add to a later name, Gaigwu, i m sorry connotes two differing halves. Kiowa warrior once reduced their hair ~ above the ideal side and grew it long on the left. The surname Kiowa probably originates from how the Comanche pronounce the surname Gaigwu. Momaday ends part I v a an individual memory of the northern good Plains landscape, which changed his way of looking at the earth.


In a Kiowa legend, the people kill an antelope, and two large chiefs quarrel end its udders. One chief grow so angry that he gathers his followers and also leaves. They disappear from the Kiowa story.

Momaday explains how the Kiowa once hunted antelope. He additionally adds his monitorings of pronghorns ~ above the high plains.


The Kiowas recite a legend from long ago, once dogs can talk. A guy lives alone, surrounded by his enemies. The guy wounds a bear, which operation away through his last arrow. A dog agrees to display the man exactly how to escape his enemies in return because that the man’s treatment of she puppies.Momaday notes the although the Kiowa owned plenty of horses, their primary warrior culture honored the dog. The culture was written of the ten bravest men. Momaday recalls the dogs that belonged at his grandmother’s house.


The Kiowas have one more legend from at an early stage mountain days, before Tai-me, around a beautiful small girl. Sooner or later a family friend bring away the girl exterior to play. She hangs the child’s cradle in a tree. A beautiful redbird floor nearby. The tiny girl pipeline her cradle and follows the redbird up the branches. The tree grows, transferring the girl into the sky. Over there she meets a young male who claims her as his wife, and also she sees the he is the sun.Momaday identifies the mountains that lie in ~ the height of the continent and recalls a walk v a mountain meadow.


The Kiowas continue the legend the the sun’s wife. One day, angry v her husband, she digs up a root that he has told her not to touch. Looking down, she look at her own people. She renders a rope, place her child on her back, and climbs down towards earth. Yet the sunlight discovers her once she is halfway down. He throws a ring, or gaming wheel, i m sorry strikes and also kills his wife. The sun’s kid is now alone.

Momaday identify a wild turnip-like source as component of the Indian diet yet explains the the Kiowas have no heritage of agriculture. He notes that his human being are still meat eaters. He recalls just how his grandfather, Mammedaty, struggled to farm and also remembers seeing people eat life meat.


The legend continues with the story the the sun’s child. Once he grows large enough to walk approximately the earth, he comes upon a great spider, referred to as a grandmother. The granny sets the end a ball and also a bow and also arrows. As soon as the kid chooses the bow and also arrows, she to know he is a boy. It takes the grandmother a while come snare the boy, but at last she catches him. He cries till she sings him to sleep with a lullaby.

Momaday narrates an event from 1874, in i m sorry swarms the tarantula spiders companion a Kiowa retreat. He then adds his own monitorings of spiders. Part VI ends v a paint of a tarantula.


The sun’s child has kept the ring that eliminated his mother. Disobeying the grandm spider, he throws the ring right into the air. The ring falls back and cut the young in two. Now the grandmother spider should raise 2 boys. She cares because that them and also makes castle fine clothes.Momaday notes that the Kiowas once owned much more horses per human than any type of other tribe on the plains. That adds a summer storage of swim in the Washita River, observing insects and seeing his own reflection in the water.


The grandm spider tells the sun’s twins not to throw your rings right into the sky, yet they disobey her. The twins operation after the rings and fall into a cave, house to a giant and also his wife. The gigantic tries to kill the pair by filling the cavern with smoke, however they recall a word their grandmother spider teach them. Castle repeat the word, ward off the smoke, and frighten the giants into releasing them. The grandmother spider rejoices as soon as they return.

Momaday notes that a word has actually power and explains the names to be so an individual to the Kiowas that they would certainly not speak a dead person’s name. He climate recalls how Aho, his grandmother, looked and also sounded as soon as she claimed the Kiowa native zei-dl-bei to ward off negative thoughts.


The sun’s twins kill a great snake; the grandmother spider cries the end that they have actually killed your grandfather, and also then she dies. The twins live on and also are significantly honored.

Momaday documents a various version of the twins’ story and describes the talyi-da-i, spiritual bundles that “boy medicine” venerated by the Kiowas. He then recalls his father’s memory of going v Keahdinekeah, his grandmother, to a talyi-da-i shrine. Momaday himself has a childhood memory of Keahdinekeah as a an extremely old woman.


During bad times because that the Kiowas, a man goes the end to look for food. The hears a voice questioning what he wants and also sees a being extended with feathers. The guy says that the Kiowas space hungry, and the voice promises to provide them everything they want. This tale speaks of exactly how Tai-me involved belong come the Kiowas.

Momaday defines that Tai-me features as the main figure the the sun Dance ceremony. Tai-me’s image is carved from dark green stone into a human shape and is dressed in a white robe painted with symbols. The image shows up only when a year, in ~ the sunlight Dance. Momaday remembers going with his father and also grandmother to check out the Tai-me bundle, do an offering, and feeling a sense of an excellent holiness.


Another legend speak of 2 brothers. The legend take away place during the winter, and the brothers space hungry. One morning they discover some fresh meat in front of your tipi. One brothers feels fear of this weird gift and refuses come eat. The other brother eats the meat and also changes right into a water beast.

Momaday describes the peyote ritual, throughout which the celebrants eat peyote, sing sacred songs, and also pray. He then explains that Mammedaty, his grandfather, was a peyote man. He recounts the story of Mammedaty’s near encounter with a water beast. Part XI ends with a paint of a lizard-like animal that extend its claws and its arrow-shaped tongue. The tail curve down right into the waves.

The walk On


The Kiowas call the story of one old male who had a wife and also child. An enemy follows the child right into their home and demands food. When his wife cooks fat, the old man creeps out and also takes their steeds upstream. The wife sets fire to the fat, burns the enemies, and also escapes upstream with her son.

Momaday defines a fire native the winter of 1872–73. The fire damaged a fine tipi that belonged come Dohasan, a great chief. Momaday then remembers go in Rainy hill cemetery in late afternoon, feeling the deep silence.


Kiowas are recognized for your fine arrows. In this story, a man and also his wife sit inside your tipi when the guy makes arrows. The guy realizes the someone is spring in in ~ them. He tells his wife to act common while the pretends to view if his arrow is straight. The points the arrow about the tipi and asks who the stranger is. As soon as there is no answer, the guy shoots his foe in the heart.

Momaday comments the old guys made the finest arrows, i m sorry young males paid well for. He climate passes on his father’s memory of one old arrow an equipment who visited Mammedaty, the author’s grandfather. Momaday imagines the old arrow device at prayer.


According come the Kiowas, the storm heart understands your language. The Kiowas tell exactly how they shot to make a steed out the clay. As the equine starts “to be,” a an excellent wind blows and also carries everything away, uprooting trees and also throwing buffalo into the sky. Currently the Kiowas understand that a storm is a strange wild animal, dubbed Man-ka-ih, the roams the sky.

Momaday notes the winds are consistent on the plains. The recalls the storm cellar in ~ his grandmother’s house, through rain steering hard versus its door and also the land appearing blue in a speed of lightning. Part XIV ends with a paint of a dark cloud, in prior of i m sorry is a biology that is fifty percent horse and half fish with lightning coming from its mouth and also a long tail curving down.


Quoetotai, a handsome warrior, carries on with one of plenty of Bears’ wives. Numerous Bears shoot Quoetotai, however he survives. At a dance prior to a raid in Mexico, numerous Bears’ mam sings the she is leaving. She and Quoetotai roam v the Comanches because that fifteen years. Then countless Bears welcomes them ago with a gift the horses.

Momaday cites the opinion the the artist George Catlin, that commented on the attractive illustration of the Kiowas. The then describes in information Catlin’s portrait of Kotsatoah, a Kiowa warrior said to be seven feet tall. Momaday desire he can have checked out the man.


A guy comes ~ above a buffalo v horns the steel, which kills the man’s horse. The male climbs a tree to escape, yet the buffalo knocks down the tree. The exact same thing happens with a 2nd tree. Increase in the third tree, the man shoots all but one the his arrows to no avail. Then he remembers the a buffalo has a vulnerable spot in the slot of each hoof. The man aims at that spot and kills the buffalo.

Momaday records an event in Carnegie, Oklahoma, in which two old Kiowa men, riding job-related horses, chase down and also kill a tame buffalo. He climate recalls walking through his father in medicine Park, observing a little buffalo herd. Lock come across a newborn calf and run far from the fearful-looking mother. Part XVI ends through a paint of a buffalo, v zigzag lines on that body and also short branching poles above its horns.


In this Kiowa story, a reckless young male goes the end hunting, and also a whirlwind strikes him blind. The Kiowas leaving him behind v his wife and child. The mam grows exhausted of caring because that him. The guy shoots a buffalo, yet his mam tells that he missed. Then she takes the meat and runs away through her child. The guy survives and also gets earlier to the Kiowa camp. Over there he finds his wife telling world that an adversary had killed him. Upon discovering the truth, the world send the mrs away.

Momaday comments on the difficult lives that Kiowa women and also gives instances of women who were stabbed, stolen, and mistreated. He additionally tells around his grandfather’s grandmother, who grave is at rainy Mountain. He states that she elevated eyebrows for not playing the part of a typical Kiowa woman.


Another Kiowa story tells of a group of young males who decide to follow the sun to that is home. Castle ride southern for many days. One night lock camp in a an excellent thicket. One of them sees tiny men through tails, darting indigenous tree to tree. The other guys laugh in ~ the story, yet then they, too, watch the strange creatures. The Kiowas then decide to go back to their homeland.

Momaday cites a scholar, Mooney, on how the steed transformed the Indian right into a daring buffalo hunter. Momaday remembers safety the summer in the arbor beside his grandmother’s house, looking far in every direction, and feeling the sense of confinement within the home in winter. Part XVIII ends through a paint of a guy riding a charging horse, aiming his spear in ~ a buffalo.

The close up door In


The Kiowas phone call the story of two brothers. The Utes very first capture among the brothers and then grab the various other brother throughout his rescue mission. The Ute chief supplies the second brother liberty if that can lug the first brother over a course of greased buffalo heads. The brother, a Kiowa hero, perfect the task, and the two brothers go back to their own people.

Momaday defines the Kiowas’ surrender after the fight in ~ Palo Duro Canyon and also cites Mooney, a scholar. Mooney speak how, in summer 1879, the Kiowas had actually to eat your ponies since the buffalo to be gone. Momaday recalls himself together a boy, riding his red horse, a roan, through the red, yellow, and purple see of brand-new Mexico and feeling the horse’s life motion. A paint shows a row of four buffalo skulls.


Another Kiowa story speak of a male whose fine black color horse constantly runs fast and in a right line. But during one charge, the male knows fear and also turns his equine aside, and soon after, the steed dies that shame.

Momaday tells how, in 1861, a steed was left as an giving to Tai-me and also how an old man, Gaapiatan, sacrificed a horse, hoping to spare his family from smallpox. Momaday reveals that he identifies through Gaapiatan and the choice he made.


The Kiowa tell exactly how Mammedaty, nephew of Guipahgo, to be driving a team and wagon ~ above the way to merganser Mountain. Mammedaty hears a whistle and also sees a small boy in the grass. The gets down from the wagon and also looks roughly but find nothing.

Momaday defines an actual photograph of Mammedaty, who has actually long braids, wears traditional clothing, and also holds a peyote fan. He climate adds more information about four amazing things checked out by Mammedaty—proof the Mammedaty had an effective medicine. Component XXI ends through a paint of a birdlike creature.


Another story about Mammedaty tells just how he loses his temper. That gets upset at some steeds that refuse to leaving their fenced-in area and also walk out the gate. In his anger, he shoots at the steed that is bring about trouble. That misses and also hits the 2nd horse in the neck.

Momaday notes an event from the winter of 1852–53, once a Pawnee boy organized captive by the Kiowas stole among their ideal horses. He climate recalls how Mammedaty retained the skeletal of small Red, one of his favorite horses, yet then later, who stole the bones. Momaday understands why his grandfather—and the bone thief—valued tiny Red. Part XXII ends through a painting of a steed with an arrow embedded in that is neck.


Aho remembers a visit to the wife of the keeper of Tai-me. Together they pass the time, the females hear an awful noise. They uncover that Tai-me has fallen to the floor. Nobody knows why.

Momaday notes that Mammedaty once wore a granny bundle ~ above a cable tied around his neck to respect Keahdinekeah, his mother. Momaday remembers a good iron kettle external Aho’s house. The rang like a bell as soon as struck and was used to collect rainwater.


Momaday recites a household story that a mrs in a beautiful dress that is buried east of his grandmother Aho’s house. Mammedaty, his grandfather, knew whereby she was buried, but now nobody knows. The dress, made of good buckskin and also decorated through elk teeth and beadwork, remains under the ground.

Momaday to add a note around the comprehensive beadwork top top Aho’s moccasins and leggings. He mirrors on the prominence of concentrating the mental on a details landscape, imagining the creatures on the land, the motions of the wind, the light, and the colors.


Momaday describes a shower head of fall stars the took ar in November 13, 1833. The tells just how the Osage stole Tai-me from the Kiowas and also how, in 1837, the Kiowa made their an initial treaty v the joined States. The Kiowa’s golden age lasted less than one hundreds years, yet it stays in life memory. Momaday recalls Ko-sahn, a one-hundred-year-old woman that visits him at his grandmother’s house, after ~ Aho’s death. Ko-sahn speaks and sings she childhood memories: The young women go to a lodge and tie offerings of towel to the Tai-me tree, the people sing and pray, one old mrs carries in sandy earth and spreads that on the floor that the lodge, and the young men begin their sunlight Dance—all because that Tai-me, a lengthy time ago. Momaday tho wonders who Ko-sahn really was.

A last painting reflects a black cloud at the top of the page. Arched lines map the courses of seven stars, which autumn toward a row of Kiowa tipis.

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The book ends v the poem “Rainy hill Cemetery.” In the poem, the poet shows on death, listens to the land as noon approaches, and also sees the shadow of a name upon a stone.