Comanche Indians

explanatory Essay
2746 words
2746 words


The Comanches, exceptional horsemen who dominated the Southern Plains, played a prominent role in Texas frontier history throughout much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Anthropological evidence indicates that they were originally a mountain tribe, a branch of the Northern Shoshones, who roamed the Great Basin region of the western United States as crudely equipped hunters and gatherers. Both cultural and linguistic similarities confirm the Comanches' Shoshone origins. The Comanche language is derived from the Uto-Aztecan linguistic family and is virtually identical to the language of the Northern Shoshones. Sometime during the late seventeenth century, the Comanches acquired horses, and that acquisition drastically altered their culture. The life of the pedestrian tribe was revolutionized as they rapidly evolved into a mounted, well-equipped, and powerful people. Their new mobility allowed them to leave their mountain home and their Shoshone neighbors and move onto the plains of eastern Colorado and western Kansas, where game was plentiful. After their arrival on the Great Plains, the Comanches began a southern migration that was encouraged by a combination of factors. By moving south, they had greater access to the mustangs of the Southwest. The warm climate and abundant buffalo were additional incentives for the southern migration. The move also facilitated the acquisition of French trade goods, including firearms, through barter with the Wichita Indians on the Red River. Pressure from more powerful and better-armed tribes to their north and east, principally the Blackfoot and Crow Indians, also encouraged their migration. A vast area of the South Plains, including much of North, Central, and West Texas, soon became Comanche country, or Comancheria. Only after their arrival on the Southern Plains did the tribe come to be known as Comanches, a name derived from the Ute word Komdnteia, meaning "enemy," or, literally, "anyone who wants to fight me all the time." The
Spaniards in New Meadco, who encountered the Comanches in the early eighteenth century, gave the tribe the name by which they were later known to Spaniards and Americans able. Although the tribe came to be known historically as Comanches, they called themselves Nermernuh, or "the People."
The Comanches did not arrive on the South Plain...

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...orld War ll. accelerated the breakup of Comanche society as members of the tribe left to find jobs in the defense industry or join the military service. In the postwar years, the Comanche population continued to disperse in search of economic opportunity.

In the 1960s the Comanches, encouraged by a resurgence of Indian nationalism, began to work together to rebuild their society. They underwent important political changes because of that initiative. They seceded from the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Intertribal Business Committee, which had served as their government since passage of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936. Although they maintained ties with the Kiowas and Apaches, the Comanches established their own tribal government, which operates in a bustling complex near Lawton, Oklahoma. In 1995, the Comanches had an enrolled tribal population of 9,722 scattered across the United States. For them the pow-wow, or dance gathering, had become an important method of maintaining Comanche kinship. The People are also united by pride in their rich Comanche heritage, an element that has remained constant through years of tumultuous change.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the comanches, an exceptional horsemen who dominated the southern plains, played a prominent role in texas frontier history throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
  • Explains that the comanche remained a nomadic people throughout their free existence. buffalo, their lifeblood, provided food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Describes how the plains teepee constructed of buffalo hide stretched over sixteen to eighteen lodge poles provided portable shelter for the comanches.
  • Explains that buffalo robes provided protection from cold weather. their clothing consisted of breechcloth, leggings, and moccasins.
  • Explains that horses defined the comanche way of life. they gave them mobility to follow the buffalo herds and the advantage of hunting and conducting warfare from horseback.
  • Explains that democratic principles were strongly implanted in comanche political organization. each tribal division had civil or peace chiefs and war leaders, but traditionally the head civil chief was most influential.
  • Describes how the comanches migrated into north texas in the early 18th century. they came into conflict with the apaches, who had dominated the region before their arrival.
  • Explains that the spanish-comanche treaty of 1785 was implemented in 1772, with the help of athanase de me'zieres, a french trader serving as spanish diplomat.
  • Explains that the comanches came to be known historically as nermernuh, or 'the people', but they did not arrive on the south plains as a unified body.
  • Describes how comanche-mexican relations deteriorated when the newly arrived texans began surveying land that they considered their traditional hunting ground.
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