Long ago there was bad times. The Kiowa were hungry and there was no food. There was a man who heard his children cry from hunger, and he began to search for food. He walked four days and became very weak. On the fourth day he came to a great canyon. Suddenly there was thunder and lightning. A Voice spoke to him and said, "Why are you following me? What do you want?" The man was afraid. The thing standing before him had the feet of a deer, and its body was covered with feathers. The man answered that the Kiowas were hungry. "Take me with you," the Voice said, "and I will give you whatever you want." From that day Tai-me has belonged to the Kiowas.
The story of Tai-me—appearing here in the January 26 portion of "The Priest of the Sun"—figures not only in House Made of Dawn, but also in Momaday's other works, such as The Names: A Memoir and The Way to Rainy Mountain. Tai-me, a sun dance doll, is for the Kiowa an essential part of their sun dance culture and their most sacred object. To John Big Bluff Tosamah, who tells this story in part of his first sermon in the novel, Tai-me represents the richness and importance of a culture that expresses itself through hundreds of years by word of mouth. Whereas white American culture has inundated itself with words, diluting their worth, power, and meaning, Native American oral traditions such as that of Tai-me are valued and cherished because their oral nature makes them always only one generation away from extinction.