The Way to Rainy Mountain

Horses Symbol Icon

Before the Kiowas had horses, their lives were hard. Their nomadic nature could not be honored because travel was too difficult, and hunting was arduous, which meant that food could sometimes be scarce. When the Kiowas discovered horses it set them free from their most persistent hardships and made it possible to fulfill their destiny of being nomadic warriors and skilled hunters. Horses, then, represent for the Kiowas the defining characteristics of the tribe and the best of the Kiowa people. Horses are brave and honorable, like the warhorse that died of shame after his rider turned away from a charge. Horses connect people to nature, which is evident in Momaday’s loving description of riding his horse through the New Mexico landscape and knowing nature more intimately than ever before. The equivalence of horses and humans is shown in the story of the man sacrificing a beloved spotted horse during a smallpox epidemic so that he and his family might be spared. Horses are an uncomplicated good. They elevate the Kiowas as people and are commensurately beloved.

Horses Quotes in The Way to Rainy Mountain

The The Way to Rainy Mountain quotes below all refer to the symbol of Horses. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of New Mexico Press edition of The Way to Rainy Mountain published in 1976.
The Setting Out Quotes

A hundred years ago the Comanche Ten Bears remarked upon the great number of horses which the Kiowas owned. “When we first knew you,” he said, “you had nothing but dogs and sleds.” It was so; the dog is primordial. Perhaps it was dreamed into being.

Related Characters: The Kiowas, Comanches
Related Symbols: Horses
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Going On Quotes

The Kiowa language is hard to understand, but, you know, the storm spirit understands it. This is how it was: Long ago the Kiowas decided to make a horse; they decided to make it out of clay, and so they began to shape the clay with their hands. Well, the horse began to be. But it was a terrible, terrible thing.

Related Characters: The Kiowas
Related Symbols: Horses
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Horses Symbol Timeline in The Way to Rainy Mountain

The timeline below shows where the symbol Horses 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
...journey with Tai-me was one of constant improvement; they moved to a warmer landscape, discovered horses, fulfilled their nomadic spirit, and built an alliance with the Comanches that allowed them to... (full context)
Introduction
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
...and Tai-me, the Sun Dance doll at the center of their worship). The Kiowas acquired horses on their journey, which transformed them into nomads and ruthless hunters. Through this journey they... (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
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
Before the Kiowas had horses they had dogs, the voice of tribal lore recalls. Back then, a man who 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
...she cared for both of them nonetheless. The voice of history says that Mammedaty owned horses, that there was a day when Mammedaty rode a horse for the last time, and... (full context)
The Going On
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
...to understand, but the storm spirit understands it. Once the Kiowas tried to make a horse from clay, but it became a terrible force that terrified the tribe. When storms come,... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
...for fifteen years, and when they returned Many Bears welcomed them back, giving them six horses and declaring himself and Quoetotai brothers. The voice of history reflects that the artist George... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
...The voice of history quotes James Mooney again, who describes the vital importance of the horse to Kiowa life. Before the horse, travel was impossible and hunting arduous. Horses transformed Kiowas... (full context)
The Closing In
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
...tells that when the Kiowas surrendered to the U.S. government, they were imprisoned and their horses and weapons were confiscated. The government then slaughtered and sold their horses. Momaday quotes James... (full context)
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Mixing of Cultures Theme Icon
The tribal voice tells of a man whose hunting horse died from shame after the man turned it away from a charge. The historical voice... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Once, the tribal voice recalls, Mammedaty wanted to get several horses out of a pasture, and he lost his temper because each time he nearly had... (full context)