Lining the high walls of the post office in Anadarko, Oklahoma, are sixteen murals depicting scenes from Southern Plains life. These murals, commissioned by the Section of Fine Arts Federal Work Agency of the Public Works Administration, were executed by a member of the Kiowa Nation in 1936, Stephen Mopope, with assistance from two other Kiowas, Spencer Asah and James Auchiah. With such titles as Two Eagle Dancers, Kiowa Camp Site, Buffalo Skull with Crossed Arrows behind It, and Buffalo Hunter's Shield, the panels are diverse in their subjects, from mundane camp scenes to ceremonial dances to more emblematic and symbolic representations. Some of the images are relatively static, while in others there is a suggestion of motion and movement. 1
Although I didn't know it at the time, this book really began on an early summer afternoon in 1990 when I stopped at the Anadarko post office. I was going to the Kiowa Museum in Carnegie, and from there to find my own way to Rainy Mountain, but I decided to visit the post office. I took a lot of photographs of the murals, trying to make sense of the imagery on those walls, while the activities of the Anadarko post office went on around me. After an hour or two I packed up my tripod and camera and continued on my journey. But I never did find Rainy Mountain that day.
A week or so later this journey, quite accidentally, took me to Tyler, Texas. The Tyler Museum of Art was exhibiting a show of so-called traditional Indian art, so I made the trip down from Dallas. This exhibition featured a wide variety of watercolor and