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
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.
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.