Native Americans: The Comanche

By Kristy McCaffrey
            The Comanche Indians likely originated somewhere north of the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the mountainous country of what is now Colorado and Wyoming, but it was in Texas that this most feared Plains tribe made their mark. Until 1875 they were the most difficult adversary the Texans dealt with, carrying off what loot they could and burning the rest, and frequently killing or capturing men, women, and children.
            Warfare was a major component of Comanche life. Raids into the Mexican state of Chihuahua for horses, captives, and weapons were usually done during a full moon, when the Comanche could see to ride, and this led to the term “Comanche Moon.”
            Comanche ate buffalo, elk, black bear, pronghorn, and deer. During scarce times they ate wild mustangs, their own ponies, or raided ranches for longhorn cattle. Because they constantly travelled, they didn’t use pottery that could easily break. They made nearly everything from the buffalo, crafting tools, household goods, and weapons from the animal’s horns, hide and bones.


Quanah Parker


            The most famous Comanche was Quanah Parker. Born around 1850, he was the son of a Comanche Chief named Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, a white girl who’d been taken captive in 1836. In 1860 Cynthia Ann was recaptured along with her daughter, but after living with the Comanche for 24 years she was unable to adjust to life among white people. She died four years later following the death of her daughter.
            Quanah led his tribe of Kwahadi Comanche in a bloody war against the U.S. government, refusing to surrender from 1867-1875. Finally, with his people weary and starving, he acquiesced, leading the last free band of Comanche to Fort Sill, a reservation in Oklahoma. Although Quanah refused to become like the white men, he had the foresight to understand them. He learned English, became a reservation judge, and lobbied Congress for the cause of the Comanche Nation. He died in 1911 and was buried beside his mother, whose body had been reinterred at Ft. Sill Military Cemetery. Quanah Parker had become a true Texas hero.
            Today the headquarters for the Comanche Nation is in Lawton, Oklahoma and operates many businesses and a college.
In my first book, The Wren, I feature a heroine returning to her Texas home after living as a Comanche captive for ten years with the Kwahadi tribe.
Works Cited
Kavanagh, Thomas W. The Comanches: A History 1706-1875. University of Nebraska Press, 1996.
Neeley, Bill. The Last Comanche Chief: The Life and Times of Quanah Parker. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.

Leave a Comment:

Sarah J. McNeal says March 22, 2013

Nothing makes an historial story come alive more than good research and I see you've really done your homework. It seems so sad about the Native Americans and how they had their lifestyle and culture taken from them.
A very informative post.
I wish you great succress with The Wren, Kristy.