Abstract

The location and movements of the Kiowa prior to appearing in the historical record around 1700 in present-day southwestern Montana have long eluded scholars. This article presents new data from a family oral tradition relating to protohistoric (ca. pre-1700) Kiowa demography. A number of specific lexical items and their order in the account describe a south-to-north movement from the Colorado Plateau of present-day New Mexico/Colorado to the Yellowstone area by at least some of the people who became the historic Kiowa. An ethnohistorical comparison with ethnographic, linguistic, archaeological, and genetic data supports recent linguistic and archaeological inquiries into protohistoric Kiowa origins suggesting a presence, if not migration, of Kiowa speakers along the western Rocky Mountains from the Colorado Plateau to the northwestern plains. Scholars are beginning to converge on an idea about Kiowa origins. These new data correlate with a number of recent findings and underlie a working hypothesis that aims to stimulate new discussion and inquiry into possible protohistoric Kiowa origins, movements, and ethnogenesis.

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