Kicking Bird (1863-1935)

Kicking Bird (1863-1935)

Kiowa Preacher

The Kiowa preacher known as Kicking Bird was born in 1863 in western Oklahoma, son of Horn-On, a chieftan and priest. He was trained to succeed his father in those roles. He served as a scout for the U.S. Army, 1892-1895, mustering out with the rank of sergeant. Returning to his tribe, he resumed Kiowa ways of living. He soon became the leader of a Kiowa faction that cherished the traditional pattern of life, one that relationships with whites could not help but erode.

Then, he related, the time came when ‘we were in league with the Comanches … and camped here near Mount Scott [Oklahoma]. Mr. Methvin, a Methodist missionary, came along and began preaching in the camp. That made me very angry, so I gathered a crowd to go to the meeting and drive that white man away, or maybe kill him. I did not want Indians to have the white man’s religion. When we got there he was preaching, and Mr. Martinez was telling us what he said. I called out to Mr. Martinez, a much loved man of our nation: ‘Tell that white man to shut his mouth and get away from here mighty quick. The white man’s ways don’t suit us Indians.’

“Mr. Martinez told him what I said and then he talked to Mr. Martinez, who told us that he said: ‘Tell them I do not ask them to take the white man’s way, for that is no good. Nor do I ask them to take the Indian’s way, for that is not good either, but I am asking them to take the way of Jesus Christ.’ I was deeply interested, for that was what I had wanted to hear all my life. I got so interested in the Jesus way that I could hardly wait for Mr. Methvin to finish. Then I went forward and kneeled down and prayed to Jesus Christ. That night I got these stumbling feet of mine in the Jesus road.”

Kicking Bird became a local preacher and interpreter. He led the founding of several churches in central and western Oklahoma before his death in 1935.

Taken from Robert W. Sledge, “Five Dollars and Myself”: The History of Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1845-1939. (New York: General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 2005), p. 188.