Tulsa, Oklahoma-based photographer Phillip Baily has now put his stamp on the fight for Longhorn Mountain, a sacred site to the Kiowa people. On September 27, 2013 he posted a documentary about the mountain possibly being mined for gravel on YouTube.
“The Kiowa are a proud people with some of the most beautiful traditions and honorable ceremonies in Oklahoma,” the documentary declares in the beginning. “These cultural traditions and ceremonies as well as Kiowa spiritual well-being in general are in jeopardy as the cedar, which is central to their ceremonies and provides spiritual uplift, is unique to this one location.”
That cedar grows on Longhorn Mountain and will be gone if the gravel mining is allowed to go forward.
According to the documentary, the mountain also holds a cave of important historical value. It is said to have Kiowa pictographs on its walls and the documentary details a unique practice where Kiowa men would lure eagle to the cave entrance with meat, then hide in the cave and wait. When the eagle would swoop down to eat the meat, the man would grab it by its feet, pluck whatever feathers they needed and release it.
The documentary features Baily’s photography of the area and interviews with local Kiowa people and farmers, none of which support the mining project.
Tribal historian Phil “Joe Fish” Dupoint said mining the mountain would be “Just like tearing down a temple.”
He and Amie Tah-Bone, the Kiowa Museum director, have been working hard to stop the mining from going forward.
“By destroying it you’re really destroying Kiowa culture,” she says in the documentary.
Ronnie and Harriot Sloane are farmers in the area and neither of them want to see the mining either. Harriot has Kiowa ancestry and Ronnie doesn’t see the need for another crusher to come to Oklahoma.
“Wind mills over there, rock crushers over there, this is one of the few natural mountains we got left, they claim they got 100 years of rock left in that crusher over there… so I really don’t see the need for one here,” Ronnie says in the documentary.
He’s referring to Unap Mountain, which is only about one mile from Longhorn Mountain is currently being mined for limestone.
“I think the mountain would serve people better than the rock would,” Ronnie says.
There is still a petition on Change.org asking Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to stop the project. The petition has garnered more than 2,300 signatures to date.
Watch the full documentary here: