|Figure 1: Page from Silver Horn's winter count depicting the years 1832-1835. As anthropologist Candace Greene describes in her book on Silver Horn, the wolf drawn in the first summer indicates that the Medicine Lodge Ceremony was held at Wolf Creek that year. The following summer (represented by a tree in leaf, because no Medicine Lodge Ceremony was held) marks the massacre of a Kiowa village in which the Osage attackers carried off the sacred Taime, the figure shown shrouded in feathers. After that was the winter the stars fell, when a meteor shower was visible across the Plains. MS 2531, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.|
The exhibit features an exquisite piece in the hand of master illustrator Silver Horn, or Haungooah. Silver Horn (Figure 1) was a Kiowa artist distinguished for his prolific career and intricate drawing style.
|Figure 2: As Greene writes in One Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record, in this “Pawnee killed winter,” Silver Horn’s detailed rendering of the dress and decoration of a noted brave Pawnee warrior demonstrates his respect for the figure. MS 2531, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.|
Knowledge of history was held in communal memory and passed down through the oral tradition. The responsibility for recording year names their chronological order was assigned to calendar-keepers (a role Silver Horn inherited from his great-uncle Tohausan, a principal chief of the Kiowas, by way of his father also called Tohausan).
All members of the community could then refer to the calendar when placing their own life’s events, when the calendar made appearances at social gatherings. Silver Horn told Mooney that he was born in the summer that Bird Appearing was killed, 1860 (Figure 4).
|Figure 4: Summer 1860: Entry for “Bird Appearing killed summer,” shown with a bullet streaking toward his name glyph. MS 2531, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.|
|Figure 5: James Quitone (Wolf Tail), winter count page representing the years 1847-1849. MS 2002-27, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.|
The calendar commissioned by Mooney in 1904 is actually a copy, reproduced from Silver Horn’s less-elaborate original. Silver Horn maintained the original for several decades after the copy ends, and passed many of the stories on to his family. The calendars thus stand not only as a record of the past, but as an investment in the future: the endurance of Kiowa history.