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Native American Lakota star Gathering of Nations Native American Lakota star
April 22-24, 2010
UNM Football Stadium

Avenida Cesar Chavez Blvd. SE (Hwy. 25, exit #223)

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

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Native American Lakota star The Revival of the Kiowa Gourd DanceNative American Lakota star

Please respect this copyrighted material. It is not to be duplicated for any purpose without explicit written permission from the copyright holder.
     The present day Kiowa Gourd Clan celebration comes at the time of the Sun Dance and in the olden times was danced just before the 'Sun Dance' proper began. This organization, known and called by the Kiowa's by its Kiowa name as 'Tdiepeigah', has a membership of approximately 300 select men, made up of civil servants, doctors, educators and even a Pulitzer prize winning author.

     Preparations for the annual celebration begin in the Spring of each year with fund raising benefit dances and culminating with the colorful ceremonial and pageantry of the Fourth of July held in Carnegie, Oklahoma each year. Although this is a time of celebration of independence Day for the United States of America, it must be remembered that the Kiowa's celebrated this annual affair long before there was a United States of America. The Kiowa's held their 'Sun Dance' in the middle of Summer during the longest and hottest days of the year which comes around the Fourth of July. Since this is a holiday and most members work, this holiday was selected as the time to hold the annual Kiowa Gourd Clan celebration.

The Gathering of Nations 2002 Head Gourd Dance Singer, Ralph Zotigh, Kiowa, a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico (center) is the Grandson of Harry Hall (left) one of the revivers of the Gourd Dance in the 1950s in Carnegie, Oklahoma and Great, Great, Grandson of Satank (right) member of Koet-Senko, 10 Bravest Kiowa's.

     The history of the gourd dancers has been handed down by word of mouth; therefore, sequences may be reversed, relationship distorted, memories fade, but the Kiowa Gourd Clan tries to remain as traditional as possible. The society of men was made up of camp police, hard riders and fighters, and selection for membership was made from affluent respectable families.

     Appointment for lifetime leadership was made by the wise elders, priests, and keepers of the sacred religion of the Kiowa's. The leadership continues until voluntary retirement or death, and even for non performance of duties. When the Sun Dances were banned by the Federal government, the society still continued having dances in the summers until the late 1930's, when it almost disappeared as far as the official recognition by the Kiowa tribe was concerned.

Sammy Tonkei White Kiowa Gourd Dances with friends at the Gathering of Nations Powwow Photo

     Some leadership names recalled are Red Teepee, his son, Satanta, Kiowa Bill Maunkee, Little Bow, Jack Bointy and his brothers who were sons of Red Teepee, Lone Bear, White Fox, Heap O' Bears and others.

     About 1955, as a special presentation at the American Indian Exposition in Anadarko, Oklahoma, the Kiowa director, Fred Tsoodle, gathered together the following men, Clyde Ahtape, Harry Hall Zotigh, Fred Botone, Oliver Tanedooah, and Abel Big Bow who were in Kiowa Gourd Dance dress and singers Bill Koomsa and William Tanedooah who knew and remembered the dance songs of the gourd dancers. This presentation brought back memories of the Kiowa cultural heritage and there were tears and some crying among the elder Kiowa spectators.This was the beginning flame of the revival of the gourd dancing. But it was almost two years before the Kiowa Gourd Dance Clan was formally organized on January 30, 1957 at the home of Taft Hainta.

     The purpose and function of this organization was to perpetuate our Kiowa heritage and to revive the Kiowa dance from the past original ceremonies. At this time an English name was voted on and adopted as 'Kiowa Gourd Dance Clan' to be officially known throughout the entire Indian country. It was also decided to display early day trophies taken from the enemies during the various encounter. The army bugle was taken at one of the frontier forts, a lariat rope was taken from a Texas Ranger, and also eagle staff and lances owned by past members. These trophies are regarded as marks and symbols of bravery and courage of the Kiowa Tribe. Recently other trophies from members of the United States military have been allowed to be placed in the arena as symbols of acts of engagements with the enemy.

     Present day officers are dedicated to their positions, to perpetuate traditions, ceremonial dances, songs and history of the Kiowa tribe. There are other gourd dance organizations that have branched off from the original clan and the dance itself has spread to other tribes over the continent, but only the Kiowa's look upon with feelings of deep reverence for "This is our dance, our songs, our heritage, and a sacred part of our Kiowa culture!!!"

Reprinted from the Kiowa Gourd Clan - 1996. 2002 Kiowa Gourd Clan Membership: President- Glenn Hamilton, Vice President-Curtis Horse, Secretary-Gary Kodaseet.

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