Book review: The Way to Rainy Mountain
The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday; illustrated by Al Momaday. Highly recommended.
Rainy Mountain, a “single knoll [that] rises out of the plain in Oklahoma,” is an old landmark for the Kiowa people. It is a land of bitter cold, searing heat, summer drought, and “great green and yellow grasshoppers.” It is a land of loneliness, where the Kiowa were drawn after a long journey from the northwest through many types of lands.
The Way to Rainy Mountain is about the journey — in myth, in drawings by Momaday’s father Al, in reminiscences, and in historical snippets. All reveal aspects of Kiowa culture, life, philosophy, outlook, spirituality, and sense of self — the beauty and the desolation, how the introduction of the horse revolutionized Kiowa life, the story of Tai-me, and the richness of the word and the past. It is a literal journey as well; Momaday, in Yellowstone, writes, “The Kiowas reckoned their stature by the distance they could see, and they were bent and blind in the wilderness.
This is a small gem of a book, beautifully written, illustrated, and designed. It has moments of insight, beauty, and sadness, as the ending of the Sun Dance, telling as the sun is at the heart of the Kiowa’s soul — a soul that survives in every word and drawing of The Way to Rainy Mountain.
3 March 2002
Copyright © Diane L. Schirf
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