Cedric Sunray: Amber Toppah is first woman to lead Kiowa Tribe

"This past month an Oklahoma Indian tribe made history in more ways than one.

Traveling through Carnegie, Oklahoma is not unlike many excursions through rural, perceived impoverished, regions of America. Downtown areas with buildings in various states of disrepair, people gathered at a small number of eateries and corner stores talking about politics, their families, and the inevitable discussion on the weather. Headquartered just outside of the downtown area is a tribe, which through a series of historic relocations, ended up in Indian Territory. Throughout the Kiowa Tribe’s well-documented history are strewn the names of great leaders such as Tdohasan, White Bear, Lone Wolf, Kicking Bird, Big Bow, and many others. One thing that they all hold in common is that they are men. This has continued into the contemporary era of tribal leadership amongst the Kiowa along with the reality that these leaders tend to be in the fifty and over age category. Recently, this has changed.

While Kiowa women have always been integral to the workings of the tribe in political, cultural, and social spectrums (regardless of their at times absence from some historical and contemporary records), 37 year old Ah-Keen-Geah-Ah-Lay (Charging After the Enemy) was recently sworn in as the tribe’s first female leader. Her legal name is Amber Toppah and she is the great-great-great granddaughter of Chief Satanta (White Bear). Ah-Keen-Geah-Ah-Lay is the daughter of Carol Bearbow Toppah (Kiowa/Cheyenne) and the late Byron Toppah (Kiowa). She is one of a growing number of younger Kiowas to be obtaining higher education degrees and choosing to work within the at times difficult field of tribal governance."

Get the Story:
Cedric Sunray: First Female Kiowa Leader Emerges (The Native American Times 9/5)

Join the Conversation