Kiowa - Orientation

Identification. "Kae-gua" (Kiowa plural) is an inflected form of an unanalyzable base; most historic appellations are variants of this form. Other traditional terms of self-reference include "Kwu' da" and "Tepda," both translated as "coming out, emerging"; and "Kompabianta," "big tipi-flaps" (explained as a reference to large smoke-hole flaps on Kiowa tipis).

Location. Throughout their recorded history, the Kiowa heartland has been between 35° and 37° N and 98° and 100° W in present-day Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and southern Kansas. This territory, intersected by tributaries of the Arkansas, Canadian, and Red rivers, was the region within which tribal summer encampments were located; at other times, bands could be more widely dispersed, and hunting, trading, and war parties traveled far from the heartland. Most Kiowa still live in this region of Oklahoma, centered around the towns of Anadarko and Carlisle.

Demography. Population may have been from 2,000 to 2,500 before contact. The first census, in 1875, reported 1,070 members, and numbers remained low in succeeding decades, reaching 1,699 in 1920. A 1970 tribal count of 6,250 included persons of part-Kiowa ancestry and the descendants of non-Kiowa individuals who were affiliated with the tribe in the treaty period; it is likely that no more than half of this number are of predominantly Kiowa descent. The 1980 census lists 7,386 individuals claiming Kiowa descent.

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