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Comanche

Comanche

ETHNONYMS: Numunuu or Numu (self-name), Padouca, Ietan. All these names have alternative forms.

Orientation

Identification and Location. The Comanche are an American Indian ethnic group of Shoshonean stock. In their native language Comanche call themselves "Our People. " The name Comanche entered English from Spanish, derived from a Ute term signifying "other." The Siouan Padouca was applied by the French and the Americans to Comanches and Apaches in the 1700s and 1800s. Ietan, usually considered a derivative of Ute, also appears in French sources. Other names from neighboring tribes are recorded, many corresponding to the sign language designation "snake." The historical Comanches occupied the southern Great Plains grasslands across southeastern Colorado, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and western Texas. Some traveled widely beyond this range. In the year 2000 the tribal headquarters was north of Lawton, Oklahoma; tribal members lived in this vicinity and in several U.S. cities.

Demography. Prereservation population estimates by Spanish and American observers are questionable and vary between 6,000 and 20,000. The population declined markedly under the American advance, reaching 1,382 in 1884 and 1,171 in 1910, after which the population rebounded. In 2000 the tribe counted about 11,000 members.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Comanche language is in the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan family in the Aztec-Tanoan phylum. Comanche and Shoshone are similar enough to be considered dialects of the same language; among Comanche bands there is dialectal variation. Supplemented with sign language, Comanche was a regional trade medium in the 1800s. Spanish and English loan words reveal a Comanche interest in trade and technology. Comanche speakers served as U.S. Army Signal Corps "code-talkers" in Europe during World War II. About eight hundred fluent speakers, mostly elderly, remained in 2000. In 1989 the tribe mounted vigorous language preservation efforts.

History and Cultural Relations

The first historical reference to the Comanches appears in a Spanish source from 1706. The Comanche earlier separated from the Wyoming Shoshones and spent several generations adapting to the plains, initially as pedestrian hunters. In approximately 1650 they acquired horses from Spaniards and Indians around Santa Fe and quickly developed a classic horse culture. Through the 1700s they alternately fought and allied with the Spanish while displacing the Apaches. Moving southward and eastward ahead of enemies and in search of horses and trade, Comanches entered Texas by 1743. During that era they also made contact with French traders from the east and then with Anglo-American horse dealers and established friendly relations with Caddo and Wichita farmers on the Red River drainage. Competitors included Kiowas and Cheyennes who followed from the north and Pawnees and Osages to the east. Hostilities with the Kiowas and Cheyennes ended by 1840 in a lasting alliance against encroaching Anglo-Americans and supplanted eastern Indians. Comanches increased their raiding in Texas and Mexico after 1840 to obtain livestock and captives for trade. Those raids also stalled Anglo expansion. In 1855 a small reservation was made in Texas for the southernmost Comanches, but settlers drove out the inhabitants in 1859. U.S. military control of the Comanche homeland was not secured until after the Civil War. The 1865 Treaty of the Little Arkansas bound Comanche signatories to a reservation that included much of the Texas panhandle. The Medicine Lodge Creek Treaty of 1867 involved more Comanche leaders and superseded the previous agreement, providing instead for a joint Kiowa-Comanche-(Kiowa) Apache (KCA) reservation in south-western Oklahoma. Resistance continued, notably in the illfated 1874 attack on the Adobe Walls trading post in the Texas panhandle. Many Comanches avoided the reservation until they were forced to move there by a concerted army campaign in 18741875. Under the Dawes Act, from 1901 to 1906 the KCA Reservation was allotted to the Indians in severalty and the "surplus" was opened to white settlement. Gradual if incomplete incorporation into the Euro-American economy and culture followed in the twentieth century. In 1969 Comanches formed a sovereign tribal government, the Comanche Nation, separate from the KCA coalition.

Settlements

The nomadic Comanches did not maintain settlements before the reservation era. They frequented campsites in the Texas panhandle and central hill country, southwestern Oklahoma, and elsewhere. Reservations were established in Throckmorton County, Texas, from 1855 to 1859 and over present Comanche County, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas from 1868 to 1906. Oklahoma Comanche town centers include Apache, Fletcher, Cyril, Lawton, Cache, Indiahoma, Geronimo, Faxon, and Walters. Dwellings were hide, and later canvas, tipis. By 1890 canvas wall tents were prevalent, and after about 1920 wood frame houses were the norm.

Economy

Subsistence. Plains life was predicated on the great bison herds. Buffalo provided muscle and organ meat; leather for rawhide, tanned robes, and tipi covers; and bone and horn for implements. Buffalo were stalked or driven en masse, on foot or horseback, and killed with a bow and arrow or a lance thrust underhand. Seasonal movements and congregations of the buffalo determined the location and size of camps. Another determinant was forage for the large horse herds that enabled hunting and raiding and provided trade stock. Individuals amassed herds numbering in the hundreds. Mustangs were captured and broken, using ingenious methods; domesticated animals were taken from other Indians and Euro-American settlers. Comanches made rope from horsehair and ate horse flesh, particularly in times of scarcity and on raids. Thus, although Comanches were technically hunter-gatherers, they resembled pastoralists. Other animals important in the diet included elk, deer, pronghorn, and small mammals. Comanches disdained fowl, fish, and reptiles but ate whatever necessary, except that canines were taboo in deference to the mythological Coyote. They thought beef inferior but came to depend on it as a buffalo substitute. Before the reservation era Comanches did no cultivating and depended on trade for corn, beans, and squash. A wide range of wild fruits, nuts, and tubers supplemented the diet. During the reservation period the hunter-gatherer lifestyle faded. Indian travel was inhibited, game was exterminated by encroaching whites, and dependence grew on government-provided rations such as flour and beef on the hoof. Those rations were meager, and hunger was rampant through the 1880s. Cultivation of vegetables in household gardens and cattle raising became common in the 1890s to supplement rations. These practices, however, were largely forsaken after allotment, as the area market economy grew; after about 1920 store-bought foods purchased with cash from tribal distributions, leases, or wage work were the core of Comanche subsistence. By 2000 few Comanches pursued any of the earlier practices.

Commercial Activities, Gift exchange, barter, and redistribution were traditional modes of transaction. In the period 1885-1901 reservation leaders leased grazing to Texas cattlemen for "grass money. " Agriculture was begun on the reservations as a civilizing measure, but cultural attitudes that disfavored sedentarism, environmental conditions, and lack of capital hindered its direct adoption. Comanches instead often leased their lands or hired out to white farmers, practices that continued in the 1990s. Oil and gas production has yielded royalties for some landowners, notably around 1980. Urban migration for blue- and white-collar work began during World War II and continued under federal relocation programs. Bingo became an important source of tribal revenue after 1983.

Industrial Arts. Comanches have excelled in fashioning clothing and containers from rawhide and buckskin. This craftwork remained a component of some household economies in the 1990s. Wood crafting was involved in bow, arrow, and saddle making. Basketry and pottery were not practiced.

Trade. Comanches inherited a prehistoric trade network when they occupied the Southern Plains. Continuing the established pattern, they brought hides and meat to Puebloan and Caddoan villages in exchange for corn and pumpkins. By 1800 Comanches were major distributors of horses northward to other tribes and also had begun moving stock eastward to supply settlers. After 1786 New Mexican borderers carted meal, trinkets, and hardware onto the plains to trade for Indian horses, hides, and meat. These "Comancheros" later supplied guns and whiskey, receiving contraband cattle and human captives in return. French and Anglo-American traders established posts. Trade was disrupted after the Civil War as Comanches were driven to the reservation and the buffalo were exterminated.

Division of Labor. Women collected plants and small animals and took the primary role in child care. They were mainly responsible for butchering and cooking, processing hides, and fabricating tipi covers, clothing, and containers. Women owned and erected the lodges and organized the transportation of households. Men pursued large game, managed horse herds, and conducted raiding and trading expeditions. They crafted tipi poles, weapons, and tack. Cooperation and overlap were not unusual. Children, adolescents, and elderly people aided in household work and tended livestock. Captives were made to herd horses and repair equipment and were taken on raids, contributing to their acculturation. In 2000 many traditional labor patterns continued in modern form, as women were expected to cook and keep house, men worked outdoors, and grandmothers cared for children. After allotment, however, adults and older children of both sexes all might provide household income as opportunities allowed.

Land Tenure. Land use was corporate until the KCA Reservation was opened to white settlement, after which time each Comanche was given provisional ownership of 160 acres in severalty. These parcels often were sold to non-Indians or fragmented through inheritance and sometimes recombined.

Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Comanches reckon descent bilaterally and do not recognize clans. Kin ties generally reach horizontally though two marriage relationships from ego. Flexibility in the extension of terms allows the construction of networks involving consanguines, affines, and fictive kin, formerly including captives.

Kinship Terminology. The kinship system is a bifurcate merging type but does not distinguish between cross cousins and parallel cousins. Ego extends the spouse term to his or her spouse's unmarried siblings, foreshadowing plural marriage, the levirate, and the sororate. Formulations such as mother's brother with father's sister's husband reflect the possibility of interfamilial exchange marriage. Siblings are distinguished as older or younger. Terms cover relatives three generations above ego and three below; reciprocal terms are used beyond one generation. Address terms are employed creatively to negotiate social distance.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. Polygyny was the idealized form, with monogamy a realistic option. Polygynous households promised greater security for all their members and testified to the man's abilities as provider. Sisters were said to make the best cowives. A favorite wife, often the first or oldest, supervised the others. Both the levirate and the sororate were present to perpetuate family structure and interfamily ties. The custom of addressing unmarried siblings of spouses as spouses was sometimes the basis for a man's sharing sexual access to his wife with his younger brother, a practice that has been called "anticipatory levirate." Thus, polyandry has been reported. Courters met outside of camp or crawled between tents at night. Older relatives might serve as go-betweens. Comanche marriages have been characterized as alliances between fraternal cores. Relationships thus required sanction from the woman's brothers, something that was desirable even in cases of elopement. Arrangements were confirmed by the giving of horses by the man to the woman's male guardians and were sustained with bride service. Marriages were publicized through cohabitation and only rarely with a ceremony such as a blessing from a shaman. Postmarital residence was normally neolocal, though it could be virilocal in interband marriages. Marriages between individuals with any recognized degree of genetic relationship were prohibited. Plural marriage ceased in the early 1900s, and the predominant pattern became serial monogamy. Christian or civil wedding ceremonies occurred frequently in the twentieth century. Divorce was pursued in cases of abuse or adultery. Men ended their involvement with a verbal proclamation. They also had latitude for physical coercion, including mutilation of the wife's nose for adultery. Women divorced by seeking protection with their brothers or a prospective alternative spouse who might fight or pay compensation to the prior husband.

Domestic Unit. With the basic family consisting of a man and one or more wives, plus their dependents (parents, children, captives), households included one tipi or more set up adjacently. The male occupied one lodge with the favorite wife and their offspring, with secondary wives and their off-spring living next door. Boys had their own lodges after puberty to avoid their sisters and establish independent identities. Such multiple-dwelling households could be compounded bilaterally. Twentieth-century households in permanent dwellings replicated prior patterns to some extent.

Inheritance. Apart from the custom of redistributing any property not left with the decedent's corpse, rules for inheritance were indefinite until about 1900, when land ownership necessitated recognition of U.S. inheritance laws.

Socialization. Children were valued and indulged and were subject to little corporal punishment. Supervision was light and fell mostly to the oldest sister. Experimentation and individualism were encouraged, although children rehearsed adult tasks in standardized play and were taught by their grandparents. A male or female child could be deemed the favorite by its parents and distinguished with gifts and privileges. At puberty boys began avoiding their sisters, and both sexes were expected to primp and strive for chances at adult distinction. Adulthood came for boys with sufficient raiding experiencethe qualification for marriageand for girls with marriage and childbearing.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Five age grades defined the life course, equivalent to baby, child, adolescent, adult, and elder. The ideal adults were dependable providers and honorable. Status in old age depended on adult achievements and the extent of one's kin support. Horse wealth prompted a distinction between rich and poor families. Individuals and nuclear and extended families affiliated at will in bands, with the size of the unit varying according to current conditions. Men's military societies fostered some cross-kin solidarity. Reservation authorities discouraged band formation, but after allotment smaller kin-based residence groups became important organizing features. In 2000 some general continuities were obvious. Class distinctions based on factors such as wealth, educational level, and commitment to traditional values were recognized, as were roles associated with age grades, and sodalities continued to promote interfamilial cooperation.

Political Organization. Comanches never constituted a single political unit in prereservation times. Bands combined into larger autonomous units that scholars have termed divisions. Divisions sometimes achieved tribal functions and degrees of integration. Three divisions are known in the 1700s: Jupe (Timber People), Kotseteka (Buffalo Eaters), and Yamparika (Root Eaters). In the 1800s there were six: Kotseteka and Yamparika plus Kwahadi (Antelope), Nokoni (Wanderers), Penateka (Honey Eaters, Wasps), and Tenewa (Downstream People). Band leadership was a matter of charisma, and leaders could be changed; a pattern of inherited authority was at best incipient. Prominent males met in council to forge a consensus. Division leaders were band heads who could marshal and reward wider collective activity in the face of shifting external circumstances. On the reservation prior political methods initially applied as leaders mediated the distribution of annuities and rations to band subunits, but these leaders were co-opted or bypassed by Indian agents. After allotment an elected joint KiowaComancheApache business committee represented local interests before the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Corporate political activity was discouraged by agency superintendents to further assimilation, but eventually the KCA committee assumed the profile of a tribal government such as those promoted under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Support for a discrete Comanche political organization grew in the 1960s. The resultant modern Comanche Nation consists of an elected business committee (tribal council) with legislative and executive functions and a supporting staff. This body regulates tribal membership, administers federal programs, and pursues tribal land claims and economic development.

Social Control. Internal conflicts were mediated through communal pressure invoked by leaders. The kin of a wrong-doer might handle punishment and restoration. Alternatively, cases of sorcery, wife absconding, adultery, and homicide were pursued by the aggrieved parties and the supporters they could muster, who would demand damages. Penalties included fines and corporal or capital punishment, administered in accordance with precedents drawn from collective memory. Communal pressure was sufficient to curb blood feuding. Military societies sometimes assumed police power during marches and hunts, but not to the degree characteristic of other Plains Indian groups.

Conflict. A war ethos pervaded Comanche culture, defining male roles and shaping female roles. Martial training began in boyhood. Combat was waged for territory, trade access, livestock, and revenge. Small-party raids were conducted continually, and large campaigns periodically, all organized by individuals seeking honor. Early Comanches fought in formation with hide armor and long shields. With the introduction of firearms and more horses, combat became individualized, stylized, and even paradoxical. Scalps were taken as trophies and torture and battlefield atrocities were employed to humiliate the enemy, yet great prestige was gained by simply touching a live opponent in defiance. Attackers sought to minimize their casualties above all, but self-sacrifice was celebrated and death in battle was considered the greatest honor.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Traditional belief posits a creator deity termed "Big Father" and associated with the sun. This being is largely disinterested in human affairs, and supernatural agency is more a matter for spirits that manifest themselves to humans as animals, miniature people, or ghosts. The spirits impart supernatural power, equated with the life force, which can be manipulated and transferred by humans for their own welfare. Cosmogony is transmitted in tales featuring the trickster Coyote. Christian missionaries began to work among the Comanche in 1881. Many Comanches affiliate with Methodist, Dutch Reformed, and other denominations, practicing these religions exclusively or syncretically.

Religious Practitioners, Specialists in the manipulation of power cure and advise fellow tribe members. These shamans are called "power possessors" in Comanche and "medicine men or women" in English. Their vocation comes in a series of involuntary dreams or sought visions and is legitimated by success in curing. Women can take this role only after menopause. Christian clergy, including some of Comanche extraction, have played an influential role in community life since reservation times.

Ceremonies. The vision quest conducted by individuals in isolation is the scene of active power acquisition. Ritual then centers on the transmission of power between individuals, including doctoring. Communal ceremonies are less characteristic and are best understood as elaborations of shamanic process. Individuals who share power from one spirit benefactor dance together to acknowledge their affiliation. A group curing ceremony harnessing beaver power was staged in some bands until the 1930s. Sun dances were held at least occasionally until 1878. Comanche developed and taught peyotism, which has been practiced intertribally since the 1870s. From 1900 on Christian services have steadily supplemented traditional practices; these services often include native-language hymns and Indian symbolism. In the twentieth century powwows, often deemed "secular" dance events, became major venues for sacred activity.

Arts. Visual art involved pictography and the decoration of leather goods with painted geometric designs and intricate beadwork. Since the mid-1800s Comanches have participated in the development of engraved nickel silver "peyote" jewelry and have led in the growth of powwow dancing and singing traditions. Bead work and feather work displayed on dance regalia were major artistic media in 2000. In the twentieth century some Comanches pursued sculpture, South--western-style silversmithing, and fine art painting.

Medicine. The English word "medicine" evokes two Comanche terms, one referring to therapeutic substance and the other to spiritual power, indicating a connection between physical and metaphysical treatment. The Comanche pharmacy contains numerous plant and animal materials, including prickly ash, sneezeweed, milkweed, peyote, and lard. Cedar and sage are used as ceremonial fumigants. Ocher paint is applied to the body for protection. To cure witch-craft, shamans suck on the patient's afflicted body part to extract a harmful object that has been magically injected. After about 1900 scientific medicine was used conjointly or alternatively.

Death and Afterlife. Mortality rates were formerly high owing to the hardships of nomadism, warfare, smallpox, and cholera. Infanticide, suicide, euthanasia, and suttee have been reported. Those surviving to old age were left alone as they became infirm. Burial was in a crevice (ideally on a hill west of the death place) and less commonly in a tree or scaffold. Women mutilated themselves in mourning. Concepts of the afterlife as reward or punishment are not central in traditional theology; some notions of paradise as a pleasant campground were promulgated. Since reservation times Christian ideas and funerary practices have been adopted.

For the original article on the Comanche, see Volume 1, North America.

Bibliography

Foster, Morris W. (1991). Being Comanche. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Hagan, William T. (1976). United States Comanche Relations: The Reservation Years. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Jones, David E. (1972). Sanapia: Comanche Medicine Woman. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Kavanaugh, Thomas W. (1996). Comanche Political History. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Wallace, Ernest, and E. Adamson Hoebel (1952). The Comanche: Lords of the South Phins. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

DANIEL J. GELO

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Comanche

COMANCHE

COMANCHE. Indians were the dominant military and economic power on the Southern Plains for the eighteenth and most of the nineteenth centuries. They controlled the flow of goods, particularly horses and horse gear, from Spanish New Mexico to the Plains.

Based on linguistic evidence, speakers of Eastern Shoshone (including the Comanches and the Wind River Shoshone of Wyoming) probably diverged from other Shoshone speakers about a.d. 1500. This provides a date for their movement onto the northwestern Plains. While some turned north, confronting the Algonkian speaking Blackfeet, who ultimately pushed them back (so that they became the Wind River Shoshone), others turned south in about 1700. The latter confronted Ute, who named them komanci (my adversary), or Southern Ute, who called them kumanchi (other, or stranger). The "tribal" category "Comanche" did not comprise a single political entity. Rather, there were multiple political organizations in time and space, derived from a common cultural model but based on differing political and domestic economic resources.

Perhaps the best way to understand the Comanche social and political structure is to start at the bottom. While nuclear families might, for whatever reason, choose to live separately for a while, the normal Comanche residential pattern consisted of groups of related extended families. Those families formed the local, or residential, band. The bands were focused around a core extended family, whose leader was the group's chief. Whereas the local residential band was structured on kin-ship, the widest Comanche social structure—the division—was of local group, or bands, linked into political networks; in historic times in New Mexico, and apparently briefly in Texas, the divisional principal chief was "elected" from amongst the constituent local band chiefs.


Four economic bases can be identified: hunting, warfare and raids, trade, and, in the pre-reservation period of Euro-American interaction, political gifts. Items produced in any one of these areas could be translated into others: for instance, items produced in hunting (such as products of the buffalo), raiding (material booty as well as captives), and the political gifts from Euro-Americans were all translated into trade items with others.

There is no way to know the pre-contact Comanche population. Early reports ranged upwards to 20,000, but none of those making these early reports had accurate personal knowledge of the Comanches as a whole. Again, while certainly there were devastating epidemics, there are no unambiguous contemporary accounts. The earliest "census" was in 1879, counting 1,479 persons. The low point occurred in 1904, with just 1,399 Comanches reported. In 1999, the Comanche tribe reported a total population of approximately 10,000.

The Comanches were one of the typical Plains tribes. They shared the pattern of horse-mounted buffalo hunting, the tipi and travois, and religion focusing on personal spiritual power.

A number of Comanche leaders became prominent in inter-tribal, and international affairs. As remembered by a dozen Comanche consultants in 1933, the greatest of pre-reservation leaders was the Yamparika Ten Bears. He participated in a number of treaty councils between 1853 and 1868 and traveled to Washington twice. After Ten Bears, historically the most important Comanche leader was Quanah Parker, the son of a captive white woman from Texas and a Comanche man. In the later reservation period Quanah was the Comanche "principal" chief. While Quanah was important in shaping internal Comanche events, he was also important as a proselytizer of the new peyote, or Native American Church.

Relations with the Spaniards of New Mexico and Texas for most of the eighteenth century alternated between hostility and periods of peaceful trading. In 1785 in Texas and 1786 in New Mexico, strong leaders arranged relatively permanent peace treaties, which lasted until the collapse of the Spanish Empire in 1821. Mexico attempted to continue the policies of Spain with treaties in 1823 and 1826, but the new government did not have the resources to maintain either major trade or political gifts. Meanwhile, the United States was trying to lure the Comanches from their Spanish alliances by providing gifts to Comanche visitors at Natchitoches, Louisiana. With the opening of the Santa Fe Trail, parts of which went right through Comanche territory, American policy became one of trying to keep the Comanches away from the trail, by treaty if possible, by military force if not.

Treaties or other agreements between the United States and the Comanches were signed in 1835, 1846, 1853, 1861, 1865, and 1867. Several treaties were negotiated with the Confederate States in 1861. But as with the Spanish and Mexican treaties, all of these agreements involved only a portion of the Comanches. The last treaty—Medicine Lodge Creek, signed in 1867—created a reservation in southwestern Indian Territory, but it was not until 1875 that all Comanches were forced to live there permanently. The reservation was allotted and dissolved in 1901. A few Comanche are alleged to have participated in the Ghost Dance of 1890, but apparently there is no direct evidence for it. At the same time, a number of Comanches became active participants in the new Native American Church.

By the twentieth century, many Comanches had become active participants in the general economy. While many original reservation allotments remain in Indian hands, relatively few Indians actually work their land; most is leased to non-Indians.

A number of Comanches served in the armed forces in World War I. In 1939, a group of Comanches fluent in their native language was recruited to act as Code Talkers. They served in Europe, landing at Normandy on D Day.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Foster, Morris W. Being Comanche: A Social History of an American Indian Community. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991.

Kavanagh, Thomas W. Comanche Political History: An Ethnohistorical Perspective, 1706–1875. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

ThomasKavanagh

See alsoTribes: Great Plains .

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Comanche

Comanche

ETHNONYMS: Nimenim, Numinu, Numu, Padouca, Snake Indians, Tête Pelée

In historical times, the Comanche were a nomadic bison-hunting tribe dominating the southern and Southwestern Great Plains and famous for their war exploits against the Mexican and U.S. armies, the state of Texas, and other tribes. They spoke a Central Numic language closely related to those spoken by the Eastern Shoshone, Northern Shoshone, and Western Shoshone. They apparently separated from other Shoshonean groups in Wyoming in the seventeenth century, moving to the plains area of southeastern Wyoming and Eastern Colorado, and later spreading into western Oklahoma, Texas, eastern New Mexico, and northern Mexico, as far south as Zacatecas and Durango. In the late eighteenth Century they were allied with the Kiowa and have remained close to them to the present day. During the first half of the nineteenth century there was continual strife with Mexicans, Texans, and the U.S. Army. In 1867 the Medicine Lodge Treaty with the United States was signed and the Comanche, along with the Kiowa and Kiowa-Apache moved to a reservation (now a federal trust area) in southwest Oklahoma, where they remain today. The tribe's present constitution and bylaws were approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1966, being represented as a tribe on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Intertribal Business Committee. Of a total of about nine thousand Comanche noted in the 1980 census, about thirty-six hundred lived in the trust area.

Before being placed on the reservation, the Comanche in historical times were nomadic bison hunters organized into numerous bands, of which five were always prominentthe Quahadi (Kwahadi), the Penateka (Penande), the Nokoni (Detsanayuka), the Yamparika, and the Kotsoteka. The bands were nearly autonomous and interconnections were very loose. Bison were the subsistence mainstay from the time the Comanche moved onto the plains. After the horse was acquired, they usually staged communal hunts under the Direction of a hunt leader. Bison were shot with bows and arrows (later with rifles), stabbed with lances, or sometimes driven over a cliff. Men did the hunting and women the butchering. Other game hunted included elk, deer, black bear, antelope, and, at times, wild horses. In times of Necessity, their own horses would supply the food. Numerous wild plants were collected by the women, and agricultural Products could be traded for with other tribes. Today they are mainly agriculturalists. The bison-hide-covered tipi was the basic dwelling, with wooden frame bungalows and houses replacing them in modern times.

Descent was bilateral with no descent groups being Present. Kinship terminology for cousins was Hawaiian in type. Marriage was usually endogamous within the band Community with uxorilocal postmarital residence. The husband was obliged to provide food for his wife's parents. Polygyny, often sororal, was practiced to a high degree, with the levirate also being present. Children were cherished, although abnormal babies were abandoned, as very often were one or both of a set of twins. Grandparents, especially grandmothers, played a central role in the rearing of children.

As noted above, the political structure was loosely organized, but each band had an elected nonhereditary chief. The most famous of these was Quanah Parker (1845-1911) who led the Comanche on the reservation from the 1870s until his death. Comanche religious practice was very individualistic, with emphasis being laid on the male vision quest. The quest gave power to individuals but entailed restrictive practices and taboos. There were no priests and few group ceremonies. The Comanche believed in a creator spirit and its counterpart, an evil spirit, and accepted the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon as deities. The religion was animistic with natural objects and animal spirits (except for dogs and horses) having various powers. Medicine men served as intermediaries and helpers with the spirits and also served practically as curers. The Comanche had few ceremonies, but had developed or practiced the Beaver Ceremony and the Eagle Dance. Unlike most of the other Plains tribes, they never accepted the Sun Dance.


Bibliography

Cash, Joseph H., and Gerald W. Wolff (1976). The Comanche People. Phoenix, Ariz.: Indian Tribal Series.

Hoebel, E. Adamson (1940). The Political Organization and Law-ways of the Comanche Indians. American Anthropological Association, Memoir 54. Menasha, Wis.

Wallace, Ernest, and E. Adamson Hoebel (1952). The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

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Comanche

Comanche (kəmăn´chē), Native North Americans belonging to the Shoshonean group of the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They originated from a Basin-type culture and eventually adopted a Plains culture. They separated from the Shoshone and migrated southward in the late 1600s, appearing in New Mexico around 1705. In the late 18th cent. and early 19th cent. their range included SE Colorado, SW Kansas, W Oklahoma, and N Texas. The Comanche were excellent horsemen and inveterate raiders, often pushing far S into Mexico. They were extremely warlike and effectively prevented white settlers from passing safely through their territory for more than a century. They are said to have killed more whites in proportion to their own numbers than any other Native American group. They were associated with the Kiowa, the Cheyenne, and the Arapaho in a loose confederacy. The Comanche, however, considered themselves superior to their associates, and their language served as the trade language for the area. The sun dance, a common feature in the Plains culture area, was not an important part of Comanche culture; they probably introduced the peyote ritual to the Plains tribes. Never a large group despite their wide range, their numbers were greatly reduced by warfare and disease. In 1990 there were about 11,500 Comanche in the United States.

See E. Wallace and E. A. Hoebel, Comanches, The Lords of the South Plains (1952); J. E. Harston, Comanche Land (1963); A. C. Greene, The Last Captive (1972); T. R. Fehrenbach, Comanches: The Destruction of a People (1974); P. Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire (2009); S. C. Gwynne, Empire of the Summer Moon (2010).

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Comanche

Co·man·che / kəˈmanchē/ • n. (pl. same or -ches ) 1. a member of an American Indian people of the southwestern U.S. The Comanche were among the first to acquire horses (from the Spanish) and resisted white settlers fiercely. 2. the Uto-Aztecan language of this people. • adj. of or relating to this people or their language.

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Comanche

Comanche Shoshonean-speaking Native American nation. They separated from the parent Shoshone in the distant past and migrated from e Wyoming into Kansas. Conflict with US forces resulted in their near extinction by 1874. Today, c.4500 Comanche live on reservations in sw Oklahoma.

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Comanche

Comancheashy, flashy, Lubumbashi, mashie, plashy, splashy, trashy •Gramsci •banshee, Comanche •marshy, Ustashe •branchy, Ranchi •Bangladeshi, fleshy •Frenchy • chichi •dishy, fishy, maharishi, squishy, swishy, Vichy •rubbishy •sloshy, squashy, washy •bolshie • conchie • wishy-washy •paunchy, raunchy •sushi • munshi •bushy, cushy, pushy •brushy, gushy, mushy, plushy, rushy, slushy •bunchy, crunchy, punchy

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