Kiowa Tribe fights for sacred Longhorn Mountain

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KIOWA COUNTY, OK - A sacred mountain to the Kiowa Tribe will soon be reduced to gravel. It's called Longhorn Mountain, and it sits just outside of Carnegie. Joe Fish climbs the mountain to pray.

"I tell that mountain I am a Kiowa. I am a Kiowa. I come here for something," said Fish.

He, like generations of Kiowas before him, comes for the cedar. The tribe burns it during their ceremonies.

"This is only place in the world this cedar grows. It has it's own unique smell, and it's what God, he gave us this sacred mountain and sacred cedar, and we hold it dearly," said Fish.

However, the tribe doesn't own the cedar or the mountain. For years, several private owners have allowed the Kiowas to come to the mountain.

The tribe says the owners weren't interested in selling the property to members. Now, the private owners have signed leases allowing a rock crushing company called Stewart Stone to mine gravel from the mountain.

"It saddens me deeply," said Fish.

The Kiowas aren't alone.

"I figure we'll have to move," said Pete Fischer. He lives a half a mile from the mountain.

"The dust will cover our house and dynamiting the mountain will tear our house up," said Fischer.

Despite some local support, the tribe fears it can't stop Stewart Stone, and it can't pass on precious traditions.

"With the crusher up there, we're still losing that spirituality of the mountain," said Kiowa Museum Director Aime Tah-Bone.

Stewart Stone's owner says he will begin mining by the end of this summer.

"I drive our here, just drive around, just to look, and I think, 'Why? Why? How come? Is the dollar all that powerful?'," Fish is left with many questions.

If you want to try to help, call the Kiowa Museum at 580-654-2300 extensions 366 or 370.

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