When a Kiowa woman named Old Lady Horse looked back on the past, she recalled the not so distant time when all the necessities of life had been provided to her people by the bison. Hides for shelter and clothing, bones for tools, blood and meat for food. “The buffalo were the life of the Kiowas," she said.
When Europeans came to the Plains to build railroads and raise cattle, the bison did their best to protect the Kiowa people from harm. “They tore up the railroad tracks and the gardens,” Old Lady Horse recollected. “They chased the cattle off the ranges. The buffalo loved their people as much as the Kiowas loved them.”
But when the newcomers sent in soldiers and hide hunters, the buffalo admitted defeat and gathered in council to decide what to do. As it happened, the Kiowa were camped on the north side of Mount Scott in Oklahoma at this time [which is now in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge]. Early one morning, a young Kiowa woman looked up from camp toward the mountain, through the mists over Medicine Creek, and saw the last bison appear like a spirit dream. As she watched, the face of the mountain opened and the bison walked inside, into a world of plum blossoms and freshness, where “the rivers ran clear, not red.” Into this world of beauty the buffalo walked, and the mountain closed behind them and they were gone.
|Loan bison in the Wichita Mtns Wildlife Refuge|