K is for Keeping Keepers

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Dual Natures in Folktales Around the World – opposites, contradictions & paradoxes.


From Kiowa tribe

The Kiowa tribe is mainly found in Oklahoma. The numbers are dwindling as to the number of people who can speak their native language. With only about 750 people who know it, classes are being offered to connect the younger generations with the older ones.

The herbal remedies of “The Ten Grandmothers” are preserved and protected by Keepers, or Medicine Men, as these Wise Women are part of the Creator. The last known Keeper was Willie Maunkee. While no one is called Keeper anymore, the buffalo hide containers are not allowed to be opened anymore with these cures. The role of guardian can be given to anyone who watches other their own grandmothers, but it does not compare to the sacredness to these original Grandmothers.

While many stories involve these Grandmothers, I will focus on one in particular about Earth Woman and Sun Boy (first Kiowa). Though, I shared below where to find more of these tales.

What is so fascinating? What dualities have surfaced?

I wonder about the kindness of Sun. Earth Woman and Sun fought, and it was intense enough for Earth Woman to leave with her son. It said in the longer version “one day,” so what about the other times? No fights? Or this was the “last straw” type of fight? Sun appears warm and wonderful until there is this fight. Eventually, he kills his wife.

Towards the end of the story, Sun Boy is cut in half (accidentally by his own hands). When someone gets cut in half, you don’t expect that person to come back to life and become twins. How about that for dual natures!

50-word-or-less summary:

Sun married Earth Woman (rose to sky). Child – Sun Boy. Sun forbade eating from one tree. Sun and Woman fought. Woman and Boy left. Dug by forbidden tree. Earth! Climbed down. Sun killed her. Boy raised by Grandmother Spider. Boy played with forbidden object. Cut in half. Died. Twins!

Finding the Story: 

One of the Grandmother Stories featured among other details – found here

Academic article on The Ten Grandmothers – found here

Book called “The Ten Grandmothers: Epic of the Kiowas” – found here

Book based on this story mixed with personal Memoir called “The Way to Rainy Mountain” – found here

Please share thoughts in the comments. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings. See quick list of programs here.

As for our past A to Z Challenges…

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has been “dual” in our offerings of our hybrid summit & festival on May 9-12, 2022 – yes, in-person and virtual – and would be honored for you to join us. Explore the schedule and register here: http://www.storycrossroads.org/Festival

Thanks to funding from National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Western States Arts Federation; Utah Division of Arts and Museums/Utah Legislature; Utah Humanities; Youth, Educators, Storytellers (YES); City of Murray; Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) of Salt Lake County; Salt Lake City Arts Council; Clever Octopus; High Desert Brain Trust; and people like you.

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