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Jill Momaday Gray

Director, Producer, Writer

As I spend more time with my Dad, I realize that the same stories come up again and again. They are the stories of his life. Everything seems to be rooted in the oral tradition, the stories, the people, and the place. The Kiowa Oral Tradition is centered on the telling of a history and of a people, and passing these stories to the next generations.

My father's legacy is based on the telling and retelling of these stories through language, poetry, myth and legend. It is his way of expressing who he is. My father Scott Momaday is "The Man Made of Words."

I'm looking for my own expression and have found it in the creative process of filmmaking. It is a very personal and visual way of expressing myself. I have chosen this medium because I love the fact that I can tell a visual story by weaving the many elements of language, character, landscape, music, visual arts, and many things together in such a way that can move people. It is important for me to tell this story - to articulate the meaning and essence of these stories and bring them forward in a contemporary and artistic way for new and future generations.

The visual narrative of the film unfolds as we embark on our pilgrimage into the great American landscape. The journey itself is stunning and unique. The sacred landmarks such as Devil's Tower in Wyoming, and Rainy Mountain and my father's childhood homestead in Oklahoma have their own stories deeply rooted in the ancient lore and legends.

I wanted to travel to some of these same places with my Dad as a modern day road trip. It was an opportunity to learn about the history and oral tradition of our Kiowa people, but more importantly, it was a rare opportunity to spend time with my father and get to know him. He was absent much of my life as he carved out his brilliant career and legacy.

Traveling to these places with my dad is like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together to tell one big story - and in that story is the history of the Kiowa people, but also our personal stories. I have also discovered that it is the bigger story of Humanity as well. Man's relationship to nature, animals, the universe, and Creator.

Just this past November I lost one of my Kiowa Aunts at the age of ninety-five. She was a powerful and amazing woman. She was born in the year 1919 and was the great granddaughter of Sitting Bear. She was a keeper of the stories and knowledge and I realized with her passing, that many of these stories would be lost. It made a profound impression on me to understand in this moment how important this film is. It is a way of preserving and continuing the stories, as my father has also done with his writing. It is a new voice, reaching out to new generations in a contemporary medium.

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