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Rainy Mountain

John C. McCornack
Yukon, Oklahoma



Looking north towards Rainy Mountain

Rainy Mountain

A single knoll rises out of the plain in Oklahoma, north and west of the Wichita Range. For my people, the Kiowas, it is an old landmark, and they gave it the name Rainy Mountain. The hardest weather in the world is there. Winter brings blizzards, hot tornadic winds arise in the spring, and in summer the prairie is an anvil's edge. The grass turns brittle and brown, and it cracks beneath your feet. There are green belts along the rivers and creeks, linear groves of hickory and pecan, willow and witch hazel. At a distance in July or August the steaming foliage seems almost to writhe in fire. Great green and yellow grasshoppers are everywhere in the tall grass, popping up like corn to sting the flesh, and tortoises crawl about on the red earth, going nowhere in the plenty of time. Loneliness is an aspect of the land. All things in the plain are isolate; there is no confusion of objects in the eye, but one hill or one tree or one man. To look upon that landscape in the early morning, with the sun at your back, is to lose the sense of proportion. Your imagination comes to life, and this, you think, is where Creation was begun.

Source: N. Scott Momaday ©


Rainy Mountain Creek

Rainy Mountain

by Suzzanne Kelley

Dry grass and sharp rocks scrape our boot bottoms as we tackle the mountain. One foot in front of the other, my companion and I make slow but steady progress towards the top. In mid-age, there’s pride in managing such physical feat, but a breathlessness that wasn’t there a decade ago. About three-fourths of the distance, we stop to photograph hen-and-chicks, yucca and prickly pear, but mostly to catch a second wind. Photos taken and pulse tolerable, we race the last bit to the top. Laughing and once again breathless, we plant our feet at the summit, proud as Chiefs at our command of the land.

In awe, we absorb this view of Oklahoma from the hub of an encircling horizon. Distant mountains similar to our own seem planted in no particular pattern. Rainy Mountain Creek meanders its way below, nearly the only place in sight with trees or shrub. But it is what we see immediately in front of our feet that captures our attention---a circle fashioned of rocks, possibly two feet in diameter. A flat-topped rock is situated in the center to support a small offering, a shiny new quarter. This prayer circle represents a sign of reverence, and nearby, a past visitor has constructed a similar cairn. We stare, our thoughts traveling from surprise to reverential respect for the work of another’s hand and heart. We step around the circles and walk to the far side of the mountaintop.

We are at Rainy Mountain with a purpose in mind. Having read N. Scott Momaday’s, Way to Rainy Mountain, we want to see the site where Kiowa ended their move from Montana into Kansas, and eventually Oklahoma. We have a curiosity about the boarding school built at Rainy Mountain (Tseityaedlta), the ruins of which lie below, visible from our mountain perch. The Kiowa children were brought here, to this campus of 2500 acres, to hurry their adaptation to a new place and to Christian customs, and to help them forget their Kiowa ways. Their braids were clipped, their clothes replaced, their language stifled.

In modern geographical terms, the Kiowa school is at North 34 degrees, 59.837 minutes and West 98 degrees, 50.945 minutes; in range and township terms, it is found just off an east-west stretch of East 1380 where it runs into East 1390, a few miles east of Gotebo. In Kiowa kid description the rez school is in the middle of everywhere, at the end of a dusty dirt road. From brick- and rock-structured dorms, the children could look out windows to see a solid blue sky with not one single cloud to mark the path of the wind. Teachers and headmaster were mistaken to think this barren location would make a child forget to be Kiowa.

From atop Rainy Mountain the wind spreads our hair into horizontal wings; our imaginations fly across the miles and back. From this vantage, we can imagine the Kiowa thirteen-year-old, arms crossed over his bare chest, surveying his earthly domain. Feet planted firmly on flint, his heart and mind could traverse this land to a horizon two days walk away. From Rainy Mountain, his Kiowa reverence for sun could be renewed daily. And in the silence of his reprieve, he could ponder the mysteries of his universe and who he is within this grand circle.

Our view falls upon the ruins of Rainy Mountain School. Closed in 1920, toppled bricks and rock foundations are all that remain. But this place, this perch on top of the mountain, still sits at the hub of the horizon, and the prayer circle tells us that the Kiowa boy remained Kiowa.


Farm gate leading to Mission School ruins
Some sources say this is the Indian Store

The Rainy Mountain School

There was a school on Rainy Mountain
A mountain named by the Kiowa’s
A beautiful mountain it has always been
And has been an enormous draw

Prickly Pear and Yucca plants
Are vegetation that can be seen
Herds of cows also roamed
But it wasn’t always considered a dream

For winters were vicious and mean
As storms blew with tremendous rage
The beauty of this mountain
Went through a different stage

The mission school was built
In 1892 and till 1922 it ran
This was a boarding school that
Taught English to Kiowa children

Don’t you love to learn about history?
For folks were never ever fools
It's fun to learn how places transpired
Like the Rainy Mountain school!

Marilyn Lott © 2007- 281

Photo by John McCornack” align=


School or Store with Rainy Mountain in background


Indian Mission Boarding School

The Rainy Mountain Kiowa Indian Mission Boarding School was established in 1892, about 5 miles south of the present location of Gotebo. Until it's closure in 1922, this centrally located boarding school, well staffed and equipped was the main opportunity for education for the Kiowa. Enrollment was good with the emphasis on practical arts, homemaking, farming and shop work. Learning to speak and write English was also a major objective.


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Plains Folk: Rainy Mountain

Tom Isern, Professor of History
North Dakota State University

"Can you tell me the way to Rainy Mountain?" I asked a farm woman through the screen door. She came out and pointed, over the corral, to "that little knoll." The woman and I talked a minute about her son, who this day was hauling a drilling rig to western North Dakota, and then my companion and I departed, to loop around and approach Rainy Mountain from the north.

To my knowledge, from conversations with Kiowas and readings of cultural studies, Rainy Mountain has no general tribal significance of ritual or belief. For these people of the northern plains moved south, however, it is a landmark of identity, providing a sense of place to a community conquered and confined to a reservation in southwest Oklahoma. That’s why it’s in the title of the classic by N. Scott Momaday, "The Way to Rainy Mountain."

Rainy Mountain also has personal and family significance to many Kiowas because just off its shoulder to the southeast stood the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, now in ruins. The purpose of this Indian boarding school, as recorded in the title of Clyde Ellis’s book about it, was "to change them forever"–to make Kiowa kids into Anglo-Americans.

The school did change them forever, but not quite as planned.

The children learned to read and write, they learned Christian doctrines, they were mass-baptized in Rainy Mountain Creek. They just did not become Anglo-Americans. They became 20th-century Kiowa Baptists, with a sort of school spirit based on the common experience of endurance. Over east at Doke’s store (an impressive poured-concrete ruin today), their parents waited for them open-armed.

So the climbing of Rainy Mountain is not freighted with awesome religious consequence, as is, say, Devil’s Tower, or Uluru. Instead it is a matter of many smaller, stiller, personal significances.

The slopes, steep only near the top, are chert-littered and sparsely vegetated. Succulent and prickly things abound–yucca, hen-and-chicks, prickly pear–so watch where you sit. Watch where you step, too, for spaced here and there on the summit are little cairns and prayer circles of stone, markers of personal pilgrimage.

This must be the center of the world. To the southwest look upstream to the headwaters of Rainy Mountain Creek; beyond are the Quartz Mountains. To the northeast look downstream to where the creek enters the Washita River, at Mountain View. Just up the Washita from that juncture the Kiowa held their last Sun Dance before the U.S. Army suppressed their traditional religion.

To the southeast, on the other side of a scattered cow herd, the multiple ruins of the school campus are clearly visible. The walk down is gentle and quiet. So is the stroll among the foundations and remains of walls. Most prominent are the stone walls of the boys’ dormitory.

Studying old photos, I remain unable to match the other ruins with the buildings once extant. It isn’t necessary I do so.

Today quite a bit of serious literature, and most of our popular culture, seeks to disconnect with particular places. To a Great Plains Lutheran expatriate in Seattle, or an Asian Indian computer programmer in Dallas, it may be necessary to sever or dilute ties of place in order to lessen heartache.

There are things in literature and culture and life, though, that you cannot begin to understand without standing on the ground and embracing the particular place. I cannot know what it is to be a Kiowa. I do know something now, though, of this place, Rainy Mountain.

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Looking south at Rainy Mountain


Looking west at Rainy Mountain

Photo by John McCornack” align=


Rainy Mountain

I must go to Rainy Mountain,
many long nights I will see
a lifetime I may be,
on the way to Rainy Mountain.

But I must dare to imagine,
and I must dare to dream
and I must dare to be who I see
I must go to Rainy Mountain.

And in my dreams I see Rainy Mountain
I swim the raging Washita
The sun burns across the prairie
as alone I walk the trails of the Kiowa.

To follow those who've gone before
into the rising sun
takes a breath of life, a touch of death
a magic fire that makes us one
Unseen things that give the strength to live
your destiny.

I must go to Rainy Mountain....

Hazel Gay © 2000


Photo by John McCornack” align=

As reported in March 1955 Cloud Chief School paper


Photo by John McCornack

Photo by John McCornack

History is something that fascinates us
It always has, and it always will.

Photo by John McCornack Photo by John McCornack

Stories about the Indian nations
Will forever give us a thrill.

M. I. Lusby


Wise Words by a man named Don

Photo by John McCornack

1. I asked Bill Burke for a word of wisdom on his 100th birthday.

2. His advice was just five simple words. One day at a time, he said.

3. Pretty good advice, I thought.

4. Bill is someone who truly lives life one day at a time.

5. More revealing is that you always seem to see him on his best day. What a wonderful way to live!


Photo by Marilyn


Buffalo Bill Dam

It was breathtaking, oh for sure
Such a beautiful sight to see
It had an important job to do
An exciting travel spot for me.

In Cody, Wyoming is where it is at
Would you enjoy it, oh yes ma’sam
Part of history it will always be
The fascinating Buffalo Bill Dam.

Marilyn Lott


Internet Photo by John


Have you seen my buddy?


A Spanish Cove special memory

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Ivan, Margie, Carl at a meeting of the Literary Preservation Society.


Scenes involving Spanish Cove


Springtime at Spanish Cove


Thanks for spending a little time in my world!

John McCornack


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Rainy Mountain School

I really don't know much about the school. Only what little my folks have said about it. Which isn't much.

When I was little we always went by what was left of the living quarters for the teachers. It was a two story house that faced the west. It's been gone for quite some time. The picture you have on your website looks like the store about a mile west on the south side of the road called Bokes ? spelling. I'm not sure of the spelling but my aunt, Zelma Sheperd, who has always lived just north of Gotebo, and both my parents have always said it was an old Indian store. You might check the info to be sure. The creek that runs north and south, just to the west, was always called Sugar creek.

I believe there was a flood somewhere around the school sometime in the early 1900's and an Indian, of what tribe I'm not sure, saved a missionary and his son. The Indian turned out to be Chief Gotebo.  After the rescue, the town of Harrison was renamed Gotebo.

My sister, Linda Cardenas, is the clerk for the city of Gotebo. She has started a historical society in Gotebo, and if you have any pictures of early Gotebo I'm sure she would love to talk to you.


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A Simple Redneck Poem


At one time Bubba’s home phone number was located in Gotebo
Long distance operators never knew how to calculate the toll.

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