The meaning of this story first struck me as a journey back through the Kiowa history. Back through the time of his grandma, to the time when all had just begun.
It is a platform that reflects Momaday’s own background, sense of purpose and subsequent approach to the subject. He begins by Momaday begins his book by acquainting his audience with the Kiowa’s past.He tells of how the Kiowa migrated in the early 18th century from the headwaters of the Yellowstone River eastward to the Black Hills and south to the Wichita Mountains. It is there, says Momaday, that “a single knoll rises out of the plain…
which serves as a landmark for the homeland of the Kiowas, to which… they gave the name.
.. Rainy Mountain. ” At this point in the narrative that Momaday begins to stray from convention by revealing the allegorical nature of his text.
He informs us that in the course of that long migration had come of age as a people. They had conceived a good idea of themselves; they had dared to imagine and determine who they were…. the way to Rainy Mountain is preeminently the history of an idea, man’s idea of himself, For Momaday, the “way” to Rainy Mountain not only represents the actual migration of the Kiowa, and the development of their culture, but also his own personal journey of retrieval.The way in which he perpetuates “the history of an idea, man’s idea of himself” is quite innovative: Momaday presents three different “visions” of the Kiowa experience, which I have termed the “Kiowa,” the “historical,” and the “personal. ” The Kiowa vision is comprised of a succession of myths passed down to Momaday in the oral tradition from relatives and other “tribespeople.
” They serve as Momaday’s principal source of material.These myths are colorful and imaginative in their explanations, and they are wonderful stories in their own right; however, beneath the surface, they reveal the motivations of their creators. Some myths convey moral lessons, others give us a clue as to social and gender roles. In their entirety, however, the Kiowa myths reveal the foundations for a cultural value system: one based on reverence for the sun, the horse and the buffalo (all fundamental elements required to sustain their lives. )