The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 1 : The Setting Out | Summary



The author tells of the Kiowa creation story: "The Kiowas came one by one into the world through a hollow log." One woman, swollen with child, got stuck, and then "after that, no one could get through." This is why there are so few members of the tribe, the legend says. The second paragraph gives some history. It relates the various names of the Kiowa: Kwuda and Tepda (coming out), and Kiowa, which is from the name Gaigwu, meaning "something of which the two halves differ from each other in appearance." The final paragraph tells of the author's recollection of the Great Plains, sunlit and beautiful.


The power of words will be addressed later in the text, but with this context in mind now, the reader may find it useful to note there are numerous names by which the Kiowa people have called themselves. Further, the author explains how the relatively small size of the tribe was folded into the Kiowa creation story. They are few because the number able to come through to this world was interrupted—by a pregnant woman. The fate of this woman is unknown, and the reader may note the role of women in the upcoming segments is not an overall positive one. The exceptions to this are almost exclusively the female relatives of the author.

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