Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Kiowa oral tradition says their origins were in the far north, in the Yellowstone area or possibly even Canada. They were classic, nomadic Plains Indians, following the buffalo and as excellent horsemen, their livelihood depended on hunting buffalo. Gradually the tribe migrated east and south through the Black Hills and later to Colorado and Nebraska. In 1790, the Kiowa made a peace treaty with the Comanche with whom they remained allies in the coming years.
The Kiowa first encountered Euro-American encroachment in 1820 and signed their first treaty with the U.S. at Fort Gibson in 1837. As the U.S. sought to connect the two coasts with railroads, treaties increasingly confined the Kiowa farther south to Kansas and eventually to Oklahoma in 1868, where they were put on lands jointly with the Comanche and Apache. Tribal members resisted confinement on their assigned reservation and it took strong military action to enforce peace. The U.S. established Fort Sill, making it one of the largest military posts in the nation, and after an attack on a wagon train in 1881, the U.S. sent Kiowa leaders Satank, Satanta and Big Tree to prison. Eventually the U.S. military prevailed and forced the Indians into reservation life.
In 1892, the Jerome Commission dictated the terms of allotment to the Kiowa, opening the Kiowa's remaining two million acres of land to settlement. Commission members forged Indian signatures on the final agreement. Non-Indian invaders flooded the Kiowa lands, and the boarding school and other assimilation policies continued to wreak havoc on their culture. Beginning in the 1930s, following the Indian New Deal, the Kiowa began recovering, creating a tribal government in 1940. Despite the radical and disruptive changes in their past, the Kiowa keep their culture and heritage alive with a variety of clubs, fairs and festivals, and the resurgence of the Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society and Kiowa Gourd Clan further the preservation and restoration.