The Way To Rainy Mountain Essay

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The book was illustrated by the author's father, Al Momaday.

recalls one of Momaday's earlier works, The Journey of Tai-me, a collection of Kiowa myths translated into English.

And then when Reagan came in, in 1980, he reversed some of those things.

So we had freedom of religion for two years -- in this country that is supposedly founded on the freedom of religion!

And I think that phrase captures something of his significance, in the sense of a baseline excellence -- as a writer. In the 1970s, there were all kinds of bills passed, including [a] civil rights bill for Indian people, a bill for American Indian education, religious freedom.

He's a person with a tremendously imagistic mind, but he loves the voice in what he does. Most people wouldn't believe that Indian people in this country got freedom of religion in 1978.The history of Kiowa people, actually, is that they are linguistically related to Southwest Pueblo tribes.And somehow, at some point, unbeknownst to the oral historians of the Kiowa tradition, they went north and then they came back down to Montana, and then from Montana they went to Rainy Mountain.He does this by splitting the book's perspective between himself, his forebears, and anthropologists.The tension between these perspectives offers readers a means of understanding Kiowa culture as a living entity that changes depending on one's point of view.Momaday fit right in that historic moment of Indian people coming to the fore of American imagination, not as the end-of-the-trail, bedraggled kind of warrior who's lost vision and hope, but they came into full view as contemporary Indians.There had been as sense of Indian people being reduced to wards of poverty, policy, and programs, not having culture left, etc.So that book gets kids, young people, in touch with a world that's moving, on the move.In an odd sense, it's the same kind of appeal that a coyote story can have.Many immigrants come to this country -- the first generation struggles to make it, the second generation has it a little easier, and then the third generation wants to revisit the life of the grandparents, to go back and see where they came from, who they were when they were in the Old World.And so between generations, the recovery of history, family history, and cultural identity are important to human beings.

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