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KICKING BIRD (ca. 1835-1875)

A Kiowa peace chief, Kicking Bird (T'ene-angopte, Striking Eagle) was of Kiowa and Crow descent. At the time of his birth the Kiowa inhabited western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and southwestern Kansas. A renowned warrior as a youth, Kicking Bird favored diplomacy as he matured. He signed the Little Arkansas Treaty in 1865, assumed leadership of the Kiowa peace faction after Dohasan's death in 1866, and marked the Medicine Lodge Treaty in 1867. Despite Bvt. Maj. Gen. George A. Custer's claim to the contrary, Kicking Bird did not participate in the Battle of the Washita in 1868.

Kicking Bird's conciliatory views brought accusations of cowardice. In response, he led a raid into Texas in 1870. His honor restored, Kicking Bird fought no more. He sought freedom for Satanta and Big Tree and promoted schooling for Kiowa children. His influence spared most Kiowa the hardships of the Red River War of 1874-75. Following that conflict he received recognition as principal chief. In that capacity he selected twenty-seven belligerent Kiowa for imprisonment in Florida. Kicking Bird died abruptly on May 3, 1875. His supporters claimed that he had been poisoned or cursed by his militant Kiowa enemies. He was buried in the Fort Sill cemetery.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Stan Hoig, The Kiowas and the Legend of Kicking Bird (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2000). Mildred P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (2nd ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971). Wilbur S. Nye, Carbine and Lance: The Story of Old Fort Sill (3rd ed., rev., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969). Morris F. Taylor, "Kicking Bird: A Chief of the Kiowas," Kansas Historical Quarterly 38 (Autumn 1972).

Jon D. May

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