Kiowa Images, Stories, and Human/More-than-human Relations in Alfred and N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.26754/ojs_misc/mj.20227363

Keywords:

native American literature, N. Scott Momaday, Al Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain, Kiowa art, pictographic history, interspecies relations

Abstract

Drawing from the pictographic traditions and interspecies relations of the Kiowa as well as from N. Scott Momaday’s own theories of language, vision, and the creative imagination, this article aims to broaden our understanding of the ­­­memoir The Way to Rainy Mountain as a verbal/visual collaboration between Kiowa painter Alfred Momaday and his son, N. Scott. The stories and images rendered in the book strongly establish the Kiowa in relation to a particular cultural landscape, to visual/oral forms of memory, and to the animals and more-than-human beings that endow them with meaning. To further understand these two sets of relations, the sacred interdependence between images/words and human/more-than-human beings in the Kiowa tradition, I first situate the revision of history, place, and ceremony carried out by the Momadays within a tribal-specific intellectual framework. To that end, I consider the visual modes and practices that were traditionally engaged by the Kiowa and which are reinserted by the Momadays in their text as a form of anti-colonial resurgence. Such strategies contributed to decolonizing textual spaces and tribal representation in the late 1960s through their blurring of Western disciplines and through the spiritual interconnection of human, more-than-humans and place at a time when Native American religions were banned. Words and images in The Way to Rainy Mountain are preeminently relational and place-based; they engage with the land and the multiple beings that dwell on it at material and spiritual levels that cannot be set apart. Shaped by traditional Kiowa epistemology and social practice, Rainy Mountain’s illustrations depict more-than-human beings and interspecies relations which, understood as both material and sacred experience, lead to creative vision and cultural resurgence in this groundbreaking text.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

ANDERSON, Virginia De John. 2004. Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America. Oxford: Oxford U.P.

BESSON, Françoise. 2014. “Real and Mythical Animals in N. Scott Momaday’s Work: Who is at the Origin of First Narratives?”. In Besson, Françoise, Claire Omhovère and Héliane Ventura (eds.) The Memory of Nature in Aboriginal, Canadian and American Contexts. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 215-234.

BRÍGIDO-CORACHÁN, Anna M. 2011. “Native Journeys of Self-Figuration: N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain and Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera”. In Simal, Begoña (ed.) Selves in Dialogue. A Transethnic Approach to American Life Writing. Amsterdam: Rodopi: 109-132.

BRÍGIDO-CORACHÁN, Anna M. 2012. “Wordarrows. The Performative Power of Language in N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain”. Language Value 4 (2): 56-69. < https://doi.org/10.6035/LanguageV.2012.4.2.5>.

BROOKS, Lisa. 2008. The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

CADUTO, Michael J. and Joseph BRUCHACH. 1991. Keepers of the Animals. Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children. Golden, CO: Fulctum Publishing.

CLEMENTS, William M. 2001. “‘Image and word cannot be divided’: N. Scott Momaday and Kiowa Ekphrasis”. Western American Literature 36 (2): 134-152. <https://doi.org/10.1353/wal.2001.0049>.

COLTELLI, Laura. 1990. Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.

COULTHARD, Glen. 2015. “Land is a Relationship. In Conversation with Glen Coulthard on Indigenous Nationhood”., Rabble.ca (January 21). < https://rabble.ca/columnists/land-relationship-conversation-glen-coulthard-on-indigenous-nationhood/>. Accessed November 4th, 2020.

COULTHARD, Glen, and Leanne Betasamosake SIMPSON. 2016. “Grounded Normativity/Place-Based Solidarity”. American Quarterly 68 (2): 249-255. <https://doi.org/10.1353/aq.2016.0038>.

DIETRICH, René. 2016. “Biopolitics and Indigenous Literary Studies: Settler Colonial Hierarchies, Relational Lives, and the Political Potential of Native Writing in N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain”. In Banerjee, Mita (ed.) Comparative Indigenous Studies. Heidelberg: Winter: 1-25.

DREESE, Donelle. 2002. Ecocriticism. Creating Self and Place in Environmental and American Indian Literatures. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

ERDRICH, Louise. 2003. Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society.

ELDER, Arlene. 1999. “‘Dancing the Page’: Orature in N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain”. Narrative 7 (3): 272-288.

GREENE, Candace S. 2009. One Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.

KLEPPE, Sandra Lee. 2014. “American Ekprhrasis through the Centuries”. In Kleppe, Sandra Lee (ed.) Ekphrasis in American Poetry: The Colonial Period to the 21st Century. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 3-14.

KRUPAT, Arnold. 1989. The Voice in the Margin. Native American Literature and the Canon. University of California Press.

LINCOLN, Kenneth. 1986. “Tai-Me to Rainy Mountain: The Makings of American Indian Literature”. American Indian Quarterly 10 (1): 101-117. <https://doi.org/10.2307/1183983>.

MCALLISTER, Mick. 1978. “The Topology of Remembrance in The Way to Rainy Mountain”. Denver Quarterly 12 (4): 19-31.

MOMADAY, N. Scott. 1967. The Journey of Tai-Me. Santa Barbara: University of California.

MOMADAY, N. Scott. 1968. House Made of Dawn. New York: Harper and Row.

MOMADAY, N. Scott. 1969. The Way to Rainy Mountain. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

MOMADAY, N. Scott. 1976. The Names. A Memoir. New York: Harper and Row.

MOMADAY, N. Scott. 1989. The Ancient Child. New York: Doubleday.

MOMADAY, N. Scott. 1997. The Man Made of Words. Essays, Stories, Passages. New York: St. Martins Press.

MOMADAY, N. Scott. 2013. In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems, 1961-1991. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

MOMADAY, Jill. 2017. Return to Rainy Mountain. Vision Maker Media.

PLUMWOOD, Val. 2002. Environmental Culture. The Ecological Crisis of Reason. London and New York: Routledge.

RAINWATER, Catherine. 1995. “Planes, Lines, Shapes, and Shadows: N. Scott Momaday’s iconological Imagination”. Texas Studies in Literature and Language 37 (4): 376-393.

RAND, Jacki Thompson. 2008. Kiowa Humanity and the Invasion of the State. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.

SCHWENINGER, Lee. 2008. Listening to the Land: Native American Literary Responses to the Landscape. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

SCOTT, Hugh Lenox. 1911. “Notes on the Kado or Sun Dance of the Kiowa” American Anthropologist 13 (3): 345-379.

SILKO, Leslie Marmon. 1997. Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit. Essays on Native American Life Today. New York: Simon and Schuster.

SIMPSON, Leanne and Edna MANITOWABI. 2013. “Theorizing Resurgence from Within Nishnaabeg Thought”. In Doerfler, Jill, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (eds.) Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World through Stories. East Lansing: Michigan State U.P.: 279-296.

TEUTON, Christopher B. 2010. Deep Waters. The Textual Continuum in American Indian Literature. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.

WARRIOR, Robert Allen. 1995. Tribal Secrets. Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

WHYTE, Kyle Powys, and Chris J. CUOMO. 2017. “Ethics of Caring in Environmental Ethics. Indigenous and Feminist Philosophies”. In Gardiner, Stephen and Allen Thomson (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics. Oxford: Oxford U.P.: 234-247.

WONG, Hertha. 1992. Sending My Heart Back Across the Years. Oxford: Oxford U.P.

Downloads

Published

2022-12-13

Issue

Section

ARTICLES: Literature, film and cultural studies