The Kiowa

Plains: Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Caddo, Wichita, Pawnee

Recorded and Edited by Willard Rhodes
Folk Music Of The United States Issued from the Collections of the Archive of American Folk Song L39
The Kiowa are reputed to be the bravest, most courageous, most warlike of the tribes of the Southwest. After leaving their traditional home in the mountain region of what is now western Montana, they moved southeast, where they met the Crow and with whom they made a friendly alliance. With the acquisition of horses, they drifted out on the plains, where they established themselves as an important and formidable tribe. About 1790, after years of warfare, they made peace with the Comanche, an alliance that served as the basis for the Kiowa-Comanche reservation in Oklahoma where the two tribes were settled later.

The Kiowa were noted for their pictograph records in the form of calendar histories in which a specified event of tribal importance was recorded for each summer and each winter by paintings made on skin. The calendar is complete from 1832-33 through 1892. George Poalaw, a Kiowa, continued the record from 1893 until 1939 when he died. A number of Kiowa artists of the twentieth century have gained national and international acclaim for their watercolor paintings.

The tribal organization and sense of solidarity came to an end for the Kiowa as it did for other tribes when allotments of 160 acres were made to each member of the tribe and the surplus tribal reservation land was opened to the whites. Once the Kiowa capitulated to the United States government and accepted the restrictions of a sedentary life, they made remarkable progress in adjusting themselves to an alien civilization. Today they live on their farms and fulfill their responsibilities as citizens of the state and the nation. Their personal and business interests are represented by their elected members on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Intertribal Business Committee.

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



Kiowa Story Of The Flute Belo Cozad was a famous Kiowa flute maker and a gentleman of great charm. We are fortunate to have his playing and his story of the flute as recorded in Anadarko, Oklahoma, in the summer of 1941. I have transcribed his speech as it appears on the record without attempting to edit or correct his English. I believe the warm, lovable personality of the man manifests itself in his voice.

I glad to met you, brother, and I want tell you something about my old, old lifetime to-far, far[?] back, you know. And, eh, I'm a Kiowa tribe; my daddy he's the chief of the 'Pache Indian. And he's the first one went to Washington City see the Uncle Sam, and a lot of Kiowas went out with him, and, eh, they all die out, and I'm only one living-oldest one living today. I am seventy-seven years old now. I'm pretty old. And, eh, I like to, to-to-to give you some kind, of news said [?] about this music, music I got, you know. And if you like it, I gon' fetch it up for you, sing, sing for you, and you, you could have that long as you live. And, eh, remember me and tell all your friends that, that I, that you saw me right here at this Riverside Indian School, I like to play music for you and to put good song that, that I know myself-I made it myself-good song that I gonna put it in for you. And keep it just long as you live. I got this music from way back in, in, eh, Montana. One of the poor boy, he, he ain't got no home, and he went up on the mountain and stayed out four nights there, and he learned, learned this music and got it-he got it from some kind of spirit that give it-he give it to him, show him to make it this way and make it good music. And keep it, keep it long as you live and you make you good living. Because these trees is, eh, good, good trees. We call cedar trees. Cedar. Cedar trees. It's a great tree, you know, and that's where he got this, you know. He's an orphan boy, he ain't got no home. From now on he got this music and he's come into well-off. He got, got well-off womans and good home. He has well-off boys, and he got raising children, and today, today, I think that I am the one of 'em. Because that children grown up and just keeping coming and coming, and today I think we, we raise from that, you know. I'm gonna play it for you, to you. I want you to hear good.
Kiowa Love Song Love songs were not only sung with words but were played on the flute, which was regarded as a courting instrument. After singing the song, which is addressed to his wife, Ema, Belo Cozad plays the melody on the flute.
Ema, come here,
I want to tell you something.
Hurry up, come here.
Ema, come here,
I want to ask you something.
Hurry up, come here.