Kiowa Black Leggings

At a 2011 ceremony at the University of Oklahoma Graduation Ceremony, former University President David Boren speaks before a Kiowa Black Leggings Color Guard: from left to right — Lyndreth "Tugger" Palmer, Navy; Gene Tsatoke, Army; Darwin Palmer, Army; Patrick Redbird, Oklahoma Army National Guard and Blas Preciado, Marines Corp. The Palmers, Tsatoke, and Preciado are Vietnam Veterans.

ANADARKO — COVID-19 has claimed casualty the 62nd Annual Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society’s annual ceremonial at the Indian City dance grounds.

Blas Presidio, vice commander, said that officials for the organization have recently held a meeting where input was received from the organization’s members as well as health officials regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributing to discussions were health professionals Dr. Everett Rhoades and Dr. Jim Kennedye, both members of the organization.

Rhoades is the former head of the U.S. DHHS, Indian Health Service and spent his career working in infectious diseases. “Some of the findings were that COVID-19 pandemic deaths and illness cases in Oklahoma and Caddo County were increasing and that many Kiowa families have been directly affected by deaths and illness due to the pandemic,” he said.

Health prevention measures such as face masks and social distancing were discussed, Presidio said. It was decided that because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s current and potential effects on the lives and health of the Kiowa people and public, it would not be prudent to hold the October 2020 Ceremonial.

“The Warrior Society wishes to express that their thoughts and prayers are with the families of all people who have been affected by the many problems of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

When things have cleared somewhat, Presidio said the first thing the Warrior Society would do is put together an honor ceremony for those veterans who have fallen in the past year as well as for their families.

The annual ceremonials are to honor warriors and veterans, and traditionally put a focus on Native Americans who have served the nation in the military, as well as their sacrifices.

Known as the Ton-Kon-Gah, the Black Leggings were established as a warrior society more than 200 years ago. The Black Leggings in the name and in its members’ dress are a modern way of referring back to the black from ash legs that the Ton-Kon-Gah used as decoration of identity. The origin story/legend regarding the blackened legs is that society warriors — the bravest and boldest — would return over and again on the fire blackened battlefields during acts of valor. Lances carried by the Black Leggings are decorated to reflect a warrior’s military past.

The society is composed of Kiowa men who have served in any branch of the armed services, in all wars and conflicts, as well as those who served in peace time.

This ancient society was revived in 1958 by Gus Palmer Sr. and other Kiowa elders to help keep the old Kiowa traditions alive and to recognize and honor all Kiowa service personnel.

Along with being the columnist of Soundemonium Musaic, .

Along with being the columnist of Soundemonium Musaic, Scott Rains is also a police, fire, Native Affairs and roller derby reporter for The Lawton Constitution.

You can email him at: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

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