JANUARY 5, 1834


“In the Witchita Mountains, on the Southern Plains, the Kiowa were awakened by a burst of light, and running out from their tipis, they found the night lit up as bright as day, with myriads of meteors darting about the sky.  “And they were awakened by the light of falling stars. And they ran out into the false day and were terrified. They thought the world was coming to an end. You can imagine something like that happening directly overhead, this havoc in the night sky. And so, it’s very much in their blood memory.” –N. Scott Momaday

The Kiowa call this date “the night the stars fell.” According to ethnographer James Mooney, the parents awakened the children saying, ‘Get up, get up, there is something awful (zédalbe) going on!’” This was the second such event within six weeks.  The first was an intense Leonid meteor shower appearing in the South on November 13, 1833–part of Native lore among the Choctaw, Cherokee, and others.

Sources:January 5, 1834: The Nights the Stars Fell on the Kiowa,” The Daily Dose.  Retrieved 6/5/2019, http://www.awb.com/dailydose/?p=802Robert Neralich, “Starry, Starry Night,” Food for the Spirit and the Soul, 1/5/2013.  Retrieved 6/5/2019, http://www.robertneralich.com/2013/01/05/starry-starry-night/
Pictograph:  Author and date unknown.  A symbolic depiction of the meteor shower recorded on a Kiowa hide calendar.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.

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