The Way to Rainy Mountain

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Tai-me Character Analysis

Tai-me is the central figure of the Kiowa Sun Dance, which is the ritual that was the centerpiece of Kiowa spiritual life until its discontinuation in the late nineteenth century. Tai-me is a small doll, about two feet tall. It is a human-like figure with feathers and the feet of a deer. Kiowas make offerings to Tai-me for good luck, and the Tai-me bundle is safeguarded by a Kiowa who makes sure it never sees the sun outside of the Sun Dance. Tai-me was given to the Kiowas by the Crows and the tribe has memories of the time before Tai-me; despite this, Tai-me is considered foundational to Kiowa culture and life.

Tai-me Quotes in The Way to Rainy Mountain

The The Way to Rainy Mountain quotes below are all either spoken by Tai-me or refer to Tai-me . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the University of New Mexico Press edition of The Way to Rainy Mountain published in 1976.
The Setting Out Quotes

There was a great holiness all about in the room, as if an old person had died there or a child had been born.

Related Characters: N. Scott Momaday , Tai-me
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote is Momaday’s personal memory of visiting the Tai-me bundle as a child. Tai-me is the foundational religious object of the Kiowas, and, as such, its presence is sacred. Momaday describes the whole room as having been suffused with Tai-me’s holiness, and it is significant that this sacredness is described in human terms rather than divine ones—a religious object reminds Momaday of being in the presence of birth or death, two of the most definitive human experiences. This emphasizes the interconnectedness, rather than the separateness, of the human and the divine, which echoes the interconnectedness that the Kiowas saw between humans and the natural world. The divine was found within and outside of humans, just as nature shaped and was shaped by humans. This quote also emphasizes the notion of circular time in which birth and death loop back into one another. This has been brought up before in several contexts: for example, when Momaday suggests that Kiowa history cycles repeatedly through similar periods of hardship, or when Momaday describes his great-grandmother’s skin as becoming infant-like in her old age.

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Tai-me Character Timeline in The Way to Rainy Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Tai-me appears in The Way to Rainy Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
Momaday introduces Tai-me without explaining what Tai-me is—he writes simply that Tai-me came to the Kiowas in a... (full context)
Introduction
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
...the Crows, who introduced them to Plains culture and religion (including the Sun Dance, and Tai-me, the Sun Dance doll at the center of their worship). The Kiowas acquired horses on... (full context)
The Setting Out
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
The voice of the tribe says that before the Kiowas had Tai-me, they lived in the mountains and told a story of a child who was stolen... (full context)
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
...to “take me with you and I will give you whatever you want.” This was Tai-me, and that is how he came to be with the Kiowas. The voice of history... (full context)
The Closing In
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
...voice then describes a Sun Dance in which the Kiowas offered a spotted horse to Tai-me by leaving it to starve outside the medicine lodge. Later in the year, smallpox broke... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Aho once went to see the wife of the keeper of the Tai-me bundle, the tribal voice recalls. While they were speaking they heard a terrible noise like... (full context)
Epilogue
Memory and History Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
...as it is considered a marker of the beginning of a new historical period. The Tai-me bundle had recently been stolen by Osages, which was a tragedy, and the Kiowas had... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
...Sun Dance. She told of tying a cloth to a tree as an offering to Tai-me, about the men having brought the sacrificial buffalo in from the plains, and about the... (full context)