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Kiowa War Mothers Songs

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  • Kiowa War Mothers Songs

    I'm somewhat new to Southern music and I had a few questions about these songs.

    1. At the dance I was at last night, these songs were sung instead of round dance songs at the evening session. When else are these songs sung?

    2. My knowledge of Kiowa vocabulary is pretty poor. What do these songs generally sing about?

    3. Does an organization called the Kiowa War Mothers still exitst? If so what do they do?

    4. Are there any differences, besides language, in Kiowa and Comanche War Mothers songs?

    If you have some answers don't feel you need to be brief. Thank you for your help.


  • #2

    I will do what I can to answer you questions, though by no means am I the ultimate source on this subject.

    A-1 -- I have been told and witnessed different opinions on whether it is appropriate to replace round dance songs with war mothers song at an intertribal powwow. I have seen drums switch from round dance straight into war mothers, but this was when a war mothers group came out to dance. Frankly, one doesn't often hear these songs at powwows since many belong to individuals. I have also noticed that many dancers do not recognize them as a different type of song and thus do not dance in what some refer to as a more appropriate manner. (thus the different opinions on whether to sing them at powwows)

    A-2 -- This tends to vary from song to song of course but most are similar to 'vet' songs. They often refers to the soldiers being over seas or returning home. Some also talk about those that didn't come home. Sometimes these songs refer directly to family members by name. It is hard to say in a 'general fashion', every song say something different.

    A-3 -- Yes, there are still active war mothers organization. There are also what is refer to as 'victory clubs'. There are what are referred to as soldier dances in OK. Often these types of dances are held around Veterans Day, July 4th and Memorial Day. In many ways this dance and these groups are kind of a support group for the family's of service men. This type song and dance is not just limited to the Kiowa either.

    A-4 -- I know little about the Comanche war mothers groups, but I doubt there is much difference in function and dance between them. Also they are not the only nations that have these songs and dances. I know the Pawnee also do this and I think the Cheyenne do as well, but I am not sure about them. With the concentrations of different tribes in Oklahoma many dances are given or adopted by other nations around the state. (Gourd dance and Straight dance are prime example of this.)

    Well, hopefully I answered a few of your questions. As I said I don't claim to know it all on this subject so if anyone else wants to add something I'm sure it would help and if I misstated anything my apology.

    "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso

    "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why is it called the Present." Master Oogway - KungFu Panda

    My comments are based on what I have been taught and my experiences over the years I have been around the circle. They should in no way be taken as gospel truths and are merely my opinions or attempts at passing on what I have learned while still learning more.


    • #3
      I'd like to add one comment about the style of dancing to the war mother songs and to the round-dance songs. The dancing should be respectful and traditional...not the "stroll" steps that you see so many of the young girls do or the racing serpentine steps frequently done by the fancy dancers. The "double-time" side step (i.e. Comanche style) or the single side step is appropriate. The women should line up behind the head lady dancer and follow her lead and those shawl fringes should be swaying in unision.


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