January 12, 2017

Looking Back - The Way to Rainy Mountain

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday
1976 by Turtleback Books (first published 1969)
Finished on February 2, 1997
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

From Wikipedia:

The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969) is a book by Pulitzer Prize winning author N. Scott Momaday. It is about the journey of Momaday's Kiowa ancestors from their ancient beginnings in the Montana area to their final war and surrender to the United States Cavalry at Fort Sill, and subsequent resettlement near Rainy Mountain, Oklahoma.

The Way to Rainy Mountain, a unique blend of history, folklore, and poetic memoir, was published in 1969. It takes the reader through author N. Scott Momaday’s own journey of discovering his Kiowa background and identity. The journey is told in three separate voices: The first voice, the ancestral voice, tells about the Kiowa by using oral traditions and myths; the second voice is a historical commentary; and finally, the third voice is Momaday’s poetic memoir of his experiences. All three voices together teach about the Kiowa’s origin, beliefs, traditions, morals, and conflicts. Not only does the journey recounted in this book help Momaday better understand his ancestry, it also teaches about the Kiowa tribe’s history. The uniqueness of this text, however, has been an issue for some readers; they claim it is confusing to follow and discombobulating. Others find it easier to understand by reading each individual voice consecutively instead of alternating from one voice to another as the book is written. The Way to Rainy Mountain continues to be an entry point to Kiowa history and a way to open discussions about what constitutes any history of a people.

My Original Notes (1997):

Very interesting. Quite different. A 3 part narrative about the Kiowa Indians. One part was legend or folklore. Another part was history or factual. The third part was the author's memories or thoughts. I read this book for my Plains Lit. class. Actually, I read it about 4 times (it's quite short) and got more out of it each time.

My Current Thoughts:

We spent quite a bit of time in my Great Plains Literature class studying the Kiowa Indians. I wound up giving my oral presentation on the Kiowa and as I mentioned above, I read The Way to Rainy Mountain several times, partly to gather information for my presentation, but mainly to make sense of the unique narrative. I no longer own a copy of the book, but I know it's still available and will have to take a look at it at work one of these days.


  1. I've not heard of this book before but it sounds really interesting!

    1. Iliana, it was probably the first book I read about a specific Indian tribe and while I learned a lot, it was also a bit confusing. I remember my professor telling me to try reading the individual narratives as one book, rather than from cover to cover. That helped when I went back and read it a second time.


I may not answer your comments in a timely fashion, but I always answer. Check back soon!