The Kiowas are wonderful storytellers whose stories give meaning to their history of trials and triumph.
Wilbur Sturtevant Nye’s book, “Bad Medicine and Good: Tales of the Kiowas,” is a unique collection of Kiowa stories. The authentic stories and legends were made possible with the help of an English-speaking Kiowa interpreter named George Hunt.
He had grown up at Fort Sill with his uncle, and he listened to Kiowa stories every night. Throughout his entire life, Hunt continued to gather the history of his people and help preserve Kiowa heritage.
One of the earliest Kiowa stories, “The Medicine of Kindness,” tells how the Kiowa and Comanche eventually became allies.
This story has so many coincidences that it is more fiction than fact. But it is a tale passed down which shows how the Kiowas became allies with the Comanches. The Comanches’ belief in offering hospitality to strangers in need impressed the Kiowa.
The story of a Kiowa hero named Chief Lone Star Man (Pago-to-goodle) explained how the former enemies came to be united.
Lone Star Man’s only daughter was carried away by Comanches during a raid on his village. Kiowa warriors pursued the raiders into Comanche country and were attacked by yet another Comanche band. All of the Kiowas except the chief were killed.
When Lone Star Man woke up surrounded by his dead warriors, he was surprised to find he still had his scalp. He crawled away from the battle site in search of water and stumbled upon a Comanche camp in the dark of the night. Too weak to run, Lone Star Man walked up to the camp guard and demanded to be taken to the chief.
Covered with caked blood and dirt and almost naked, the battle-worn Kiowa told the chief that his daughter had been captured by Comanches.
“She is my only daughter ... I want to see her. After that, you may kill me,” said the Kiowa.
The Comanche chief thought about the stranger’s request. He commanded that Lone Star Man be washed, fed and covered with a robe. The two men smoked a pipe full of tobacco and sumac and talked about the situation.
“I am the head of this village. I will not kill you,” said the Comanche chief. “I will not permit it to be done. But I want you to kill four fat buffalo for me. If you do this, you may have your daughter who is with another band. Afterward, I will send you both home.”
Lone Star Man couldn’t believe his ears. He didn’t know about the Comanche laws of hospitality. He agreed to the buffalo hunts which he soon found out were really participation in four battles. The Kiowa helped the Comanches fight the Utes, Navahos, Mescalero Apaches and the Yaquis. On each raid, he showed great bravery and won high praise from the Comanches.
When he returned from the fourth raid, the Comanche chief said there were four horses for him outside the lodge, and his daughter was restored to him.
Lone Star Man was overcome with emotion and told the chief, “Now I am satisfied. You may kill me if you wish.”
But the Comanche answered, “No, I do not care to do so. Your four brave fights have not been surpassed in the history of our tribe.... Now you may take your daughter and start back to your home.”
On the journey home, Lone Star Man could have been killed by four Arapahoes. But they retreated when they recognized him as the “dangerous man” who had fought with the Comanches.
As the weary traveler approached his village, he saw an old woman in mourning. When he saw it was his mother, Lone Star Man realized his tribe thought he was dead.
He reassured her that he was not a spirit, but her son, the only survivor of a battle fought two years ago. He told her how he had lived with the Comanches and recovered his beloved daughter and her granddaughter.
That exact day, a big celebration was being held in honor of his successor, the tribe’s new chief. However, his successor fled, taking Lone Star Man’s wife with him. The Kiowas were only too happy to restore Lone Star Man to his tribal position as chief.
The Kiowas and the Comanches made a lasting alliance a year or two later. Native Americans believe that Lone Star Man’s experiences with the Comanche had much to do with their former enemies forging a permanent peace.