Rainy Mountain, the landform that defines the skyline of Kiowa lands, is an iconic natural feature that encapsulates a sense of place for the Kiowas. It’s also a shorthand for home; when Momaday says in the introduction that he “returned to Rainy Mountain,” he’s actually referring to a more general homecoming. Rainy Mountain is not an uncomplicated symbol for home, though. The Kiowas originally came from the northern plains, and they settled at Rainy Mountain after a long migration. The Kiowas think of this migration as a journey to fulfill their destiny: they became nomads and warriors, they came to worship Tai-me, and they grew to rule the southern plains. They settled at Rainy Mountain at the apex of this journey, so the mountain is a reminder of their most triumphant period of history. It’s a slightly dissonant symbol, then, as the mountain—an embodiment of home and of the period of time when Kiowa culture was at its peak—presides over the dissolution of Kiowa culture and the death of Momaday’s grandparents, who bear the last living memories of the Sun Dance.
Rainy Mountain Quotes in The Way to Rainy Mountain
In one sense, then, the way to Rainy Mountain is preeminently the history of an idea, man’s idea of himself, and it has old and essential being in language. The verbal tradition by which it has been preserved has suffered a deterioration in time. What remains is fragmentary: mythology, legend, lore, and hearsay—and of course the idea itself, as crucial and complete as it ever was. That is the miracle.
To look upon that landscape in the early morning, with the sun at your back, is to lose the sense of proportion. Your imagination comes to life, and this, you think, is where Creation was begun.
Although my grandmother lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain, the immense landscape of the continental interior lay like memory in her blood.