Summer is coming to a close and it was a headline making summer for Oklahoma’s natives and tribes. We revisit one of those stories, the fate of Longhorn Mountain.
Last June, it was learned that half of Longhorn Mountain near Lawton had been leased to a rock crushing company that would soon start mining gravel. Longhorn Mountain is a sacred site to the Kiowa Tribe that had passed out of tribal ownership, and though the tribe had been notified by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation about the construction of a road, they didn’t understand what exactly was going to happen.
Kiowa historian Phil "Joe Fish" DuPoint and Kiowa museum director Amie Tah-Bone stand at the base of Longhorn Mountain, near Coopertown, Okla. DuPoint and Tah-Bone say a new limestone mine will desecrate the mountain, which the tribe considers a sacred site and source of ceremonial cedar.
Limestone mining on Longhorn Mountain, northwest of Lawton, could start anytime. The company that leases the land on the western side has a permit to mine, and just needs to put up some bond money with the state Department of Mines to get started.
This is a surprise to the Kiowa Tribe, which has used Longhorn Mountain for hundreds of years as a temple where tribe members pray, have vision quests and retrieve sacred cedar used in many rituals.
But the mining shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cushing, Okla.-based Material Service Corporation — and President Larry Stewart — has had a permit for a 370-acre mine on the site for almost 10 years. It’s up to the company to decide when and whether to go forward with the project.
Longhorn Mountain is an important place to Kiowas, not just because they’ve been going there to pray since being in Oklahoma, it’s in the way that they pray using the sacrament they believe is unique to that mountain, cedar. And now, its habitat is in danger.