The Kiowas are a nation of Native Americans who lived mostly in the plains of west Texas, Oklahoma and eastern New Mexico at the time of at the time of the arrival of Europeans. Currently the Kiowa Nation is a registered tribe, with about 6000 members living in southwestern Oklahoma in 1989.
The Kiowas originated in the northern basin of the Missouri River, but migrated south to the Black Hills around 1650 and lived there with the Crow. Pushed southward by the invading Cheyennes and Sioux who were being pushed out of their lands in the great lake regions by the Objiwe tribes, the Kiowas moved down the Platte River basin to the Arkansas River area. There they fought with the Comanches, who already occupied the land until around 1790, when they formed an alliance and agreed to share the area. From that time on, the Comanches and Kiowas formed a deep bond; the peoples hunted, travelled, and made war together. An additional group, the Kiowa Apaches, also affiliated with the Kiowas at this time.
The Kiowas lived a not atypical Plains Indian lifestyle. Mostly nomadic, they survived on buffalo meat and gathered vegetables, living in teepees, and depending highly on their horses for hunting and military uses. The Kiowa were notorious for long-distance raids as far north as Canada and south into Mexico.
After 1840 the Kiowas joined forces with their former enemies, the Cheyennes, as well as the Comanches and the Apaches, to fight and raid the Eastern natives then moving into the Indian Territory. The United States military intervened, and in the Treaty of Medicine Lodge of 1867 the Kiowa agreed to settle to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. Some bands of Kiowas remained at large until 1875 (see Palo Duro Canyon).
On August 6, 1901 Kiowa land in Oklahoma was opened for white settlement, effectively dissolving the contiguous reservation. While each Kiowa head of household was alloted 80 acres, the only land remaining in Kiowa tribal ownership today is what was the scattered parcels of 'grass land' which had been leased to the white settlers for grazing before the reservation was opened for settlement.
The Kiowa language defies lingual classification, having no similarities to any other language. Once thought to be of the Tanoan family, simply due to nasal entonations which have a similar sound, no base or root word exists to match the Kiowa language to any other lingual classification.