This is a warm, engaging tribute to Kiowa ancestors prepared collaboratively by a Kiowa elder, together with a family friend who also happens to be trained as an anthropologist. It's a great book for someone who wants to know what Indians are really like. There's enough academic history included to keep the reader grounded and enough personal perspective to give an idea of the extent to which Indian people, at least Kiowa people, have a strong sense of historical consciousness. The book builds upon the lives and spiritual teachings of two men named Big Bow. The first Big Bow was a noted warrior during the late 19th century; the other was his grandson Abel Big Bow who was born after the era of buffalo-hunting and Plains warfare was past. It would seem like such a cultural disruption between the two that nothing could survive. But Richard Tartsah Sr., the grandson of Abel Big Bow, shows that a great continuity in spirituality continued--most often expressed today through belief in Jesus Christ. There are a lot of books out there that seek to capitalize on general interest in Indian spirituality. They are often beautiful and lyrical and largely imaginary. This book is cleanly produced with black and white illustrations, mostly family photos, and it comes with a nice CD of Kiowa songs sung by Richard Tartsah, Sr. More important, however, is its reality. Whether on the CD or in the text, one is hearing a real Kiowa voice. --Candace Greene, anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution and author of One Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record and Silver Horn: Master Illustrator of the Kiowas.
About the Author
Richard Tartsah, Sr. (1926-2008) was possibly best known as a spiritual leader, healer and singer who composed many Kiowa church hymns and pow-wow songs. He was a great-great grandson of the legendary Kiowa chief Big Bow (Zepko-ette), and grandson of Abel Big Bow, known for both preserving the traditional Plains flute and for the part he played in saving the Kiowa Gourd Dance tradition from extinction. Richard Tartsah lived and worked in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Robert Vetter is an anthropologist and educational consultant specializing in Native American studies. He received a Master's degree in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma in 1984. Robert created Journeys Into American Indian Territory
to immerse non-Indians in the often secret world of Native Americans and their cultures through specialized educational tours throughout Indian Country. These programs have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post,
NBC's Today Show,
and The Travel Channel's Lonely Planet Treks.