The Kiowa are a tribe of the Native Americans of the southern plains. They originated in the Kootenay region of British Columbia and migrated into Montana, then southward into Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The Kiowa were nomadic hunters and traders who followed buffalo migrations and became allies with the Comanche, Crow and Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, with whom they share a language. The Kiowa and Osage tribes were traditional enemies.
The introduction of the horse to North America marked a turning point for the Kiowa. They quickly became expert riders, hunters and fierce warriors. Together with their Comanche allies, they regularly conducted raids on Spanish settlements in Mexico to steal horses and take prisoners that they held for ransom. They were highly organized militarily and developed a primitive written language using drawings to document their history.
The Kiowa fiercely opposed the white settlement on their lands and waged a long and bloody series of conflicts with the U.S. government to stem the westward migration of white pioneers. By 1867, the Kiowa were beaten and forced to sign the Medicine Lodge Treaty, which assigned them to a reservation in Oklahoma. However, the Kiowa soon became restless and began waging war on the settlers and federal troops again. They eventually accepted defeat after losing a majority of their horses and several key leaders in the fighting.
There are approximately 12,000 Kiowa today, most of whom live on Oklahoma reservations, as of 2015. The tribe is governed by the Kiowa Indian Council, which consists of all members of the tribe over the age of 18.