Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: One Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record

By Sandy Amazeen Feb 13, 2009, 6:40 GMT

Book Review: One Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record

Prior to widespread literacy, the Kiowa people recorded their history in pictorial calendars, marking an entry for each summer and each winter. One Hundred Summers presents a recently discovered calendar, created by the Kiowa master artist Silver Horn. Covering the period from 1828 to 1928, the pictures trace Kiowa experiences from buffalo to biplanes, from horse raiding to World War I service, offering an indigenous perspective on a critical period ...more

Esteemed Kiowa artist Silver Horn or Haungooah, born in 1860 was the last generation to maintain the winter mark calendars. These pictorial records documented years by representing two important events, one for summer and one for winter, that acted as prompts for the Kiowa’s largely oral history. Silver Horn’s record of his people’s history spanned one hundred years from 1828 to 1928 and this calendar, rediscovered in 2001, demonstrates his attention to detail and keen observational skills.

The artistic style is similar to the classic “ledger” drawings but when coupled with Kiowa memories, archival texts, personal observations and scrutinizing the content of Silver Horn’s pictures, what emerges is a mesmerizing window into the past. This was a turbulent time for the plains Indians and the Kiowa were no exception as this documentation clearly shows. Life, death, relocation to reservations, the appearance of automobiles and airplanes and the evolution of an entire culture unfold as one follows the detailed Silver Horn calendar.

Beautifully reproduced in full color, this volume provides a fascinating look, not only at the Kiowa, but also at the gifted artist who kept a priceless record. The glossaries including Kiowa pronunciations and translations, other Kiowa calendar texts, notes and extensive bibliography are equally captivating. Much more than just another coffee table book, anyone with even a remote interest in American Indian artwork or history will savor this intelligent, well-researched work.


 

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