The Cloud family ; In memory of "Mother", Luciel. 1918 - 2004

The Texas Comanches

by R E Moore

|Chief Buffalo Hump | Just the Facts| NEW, Comanche for names / language.

PAYPAL. Easy and safe. Support Texas Indians. Even $1.00 helps. ($10 is better) It costs to keep Texas going. PayPal is easy and safe, and you really help us. OK $.50 One soda. It helps for the costs.

A Comanche named Bow and Quiver. Painted by George Catlin in 1832.

The Comanches were fierce warriors who lived on the Southern Plains. The Southern Plains extend down from the state of Nebraska into the north part of Texas. See the map. The Comanches are one of the most historically important Indian cultures from Texas. The Comanches were much more than just warriors. According to the old Spanish records and other sources they were also very good traders. The Spanish used to hold trade fairs in the city of Taos and in Santa Fe in what is now New Mexico. Records from trade fairs in old Taos and Santa Fe ( look those cities up on a map ) describe the Comanches at the trade fairs. They were well dressed. The Comanche leaders often wore fine European clothes, with many silver conchos and fine leather boots. And they had money. They would come to trade in organized groups. There was always one Comanche in these groups who could speak Spanish, French, and four or five Indian languages. The group always had a leader who was very skilled as a trader and diplomat. The problem was most of what they had to sell or trade was stuff they had stolen. They sold the stolen horses and women and children they had kidnapped. The relatives of the women and children would come to these fairs to buy them back. This kidnapping for ransom would later get the Comanche in big trouble with the American settlers who were much less tolerant of it than the Spanish or Pueblo Indians were.

The Comanches were almost as new to Texas as the Spanish. They came from way up north from Wyoming. The Comanches were once part of the Shoshone Indians. The Comanche language and the Shoshone language are still almost the same. Bands of Comanches began moving south a long time ago. By the early 1700s they showed up in the Texas panhandle and in New Mexico.

Before the Comanches arrived, the Jumano Indians and some Pueblo Indians and some Apache Indians had lived in the Southern Plains. To move into this area the Comanches first had to drive these other tribes out. See the articles on the Apaches and Jumanos. To drive out the Apaches they must have been very fierce fighters. This area is now part of the Texas Panhandle and Northwest Texas. You can find this on a map. Look on a map around the modern cities of Abaline and Amarillo. This is the area were the Comanches first lived in Texas. Later, they kept moving south. By the middle 1700s they had come almost down to where Kerrville is now and over to near Austin. This is where the first German and American settlers found them, and where most maps show them to be – from around Kerrville all the way up to Amarillo and the western part of the state of Oklahoma and in eastern New Mexico. The city of Lubbock is in the middle of the old Comanche territory.

The Comanches were organized as bands. They are not really a tribe. If you don’t know what I am talking about or are confused by this you should have read "Read Me First" first. The only time there were leaders over more than one band was when two or three bands joined to fight a common enemy or to go on a very big raid. Then a temporary war chief would be named to lead the war parties. After the war or raid the chief would quit and each band would go back to its own leaders.

We now have some Comanche languages (names). Look at the last part of the Comanche story /page.

There were about 12 bands of Comanches, but this number probably changed. The most famous band was the Penatekas. Penateka means honey eater in Comanche. Some other band names were; The Quahadies, Quahadie means antelope, the Buffalo -eaters, and the Yap-eaters, yap is the name of a plant root.

When the Comanches first started moving south they came one or two bands at a time. Tradition says the Penateka band was the first to move south. Other bands soon followed. They moved from an environment of mountain valleys with limited food resources and harsh winters out onto the great plains. On the plains they hunted buffalo and elk and learned to live like other plains Indians. Remember that they did not have any horses back then, so they had to walk to get around and hunt. The plains gave them more food, but they had to compete with the other Indian tribes who already lived on the plains. This may be where and when they learned to fight so well and steal from other tribes around them.

The Comanche got their first horses around 1680 from the Spanish and Pueblo Indians. Once they had horses they learned to use them. Many experts have said that the Comanche were the finest light cavalry in the world. When it came to riding and fighting on horseback only the Cheyenne Indians came anywhere close. The Comanches used this skill with horses to win many battles and overcome their opponents. Read about the great raid of 1840 and the Battle of Plum Creek for and example of how well the Comanches were when on horseback. The Comanche could do things on and with horses that amazed other people who were also good with horses They could ride faster and farther and get more out of a horse than any of their competitors could. On foot they were not such good fighters. Go to the Indian Horse page to learn more about Indian horses.

They lived in tee-pees, like most plains Indians, and they were nomadic. Each band would move around from place to place to hunt and trade. Often they would cover hundreds of miles in one year. While the men fought, and hunted, the women gathered the plants and other foods they ate. This way of living is called being "hunter - gatherers". Because they moved all the time they are nomadic. So they were nomadic hunter gathers.

The food the women gathered made up much more of the food they had than the hunting by the men. Of course, when the men killed many buffalo there was plenty to eat. But, on a day to day basis the women gathered most of the food. The women also cooked the food and kept the tee-pee clean. They also looked after the kids. When they moved it was the women who took down and put up the tee-pee. That is quite a bit of hard work.

A Comanche Village. Click the picture to find out more about whats going on in it.

When they moved they would load every thing on to a wooden frame made of two poles called a travois. The poles came from the tee-pee and a horse would pull the travois. Before they had horses a dog would pull a smaller travois.


Hey guys and girls. This would make a good project. Make one like this with a toy horse!!

Drawn by my mom :-) Lucile Cloud Moore

Because they moved around so much they liked things that were light weight and that did not break easily. This is why they did not make or use much pottery. They made and used baskets and leather to make containers. They also used animal skins and woven grass mats on the floors of their tee pees.

Here is a good Comanche myth. Thanks to Jane Archer and Wordware Publishing for sharing it with us. This is Jane's favorite Indian myth. She calls it Indian fast food!!! Read it and see why.

Deer Medicine

from Texas Indian Myths and Legends

by Jane Archer

One time the People camped at the base of a mountain near a rushing stream. Over time a person disappeared, then another. The band grew troubled and took their worries to their medicine makers. After sweat lodge purification, after sage and sweet grass cleansing, the medicine makers held council.
"I do not trust those deer," Medicine Man said.
"I trust them less than you." Medicine Woman looked up at the mountain where the deer lived near a large cave.
"I suspect they are stealing our people."
"And keeping them in their cave."
"To eat," Medicine Man said.
"Our people depend on us to care for them."
"And we must do so.
Medicine Man and Medicine Woman walked up the mountain to the cave of the deer.
Guard Deer stood near four sticks at the dark hole of an entrance.
"Good morning," Medicine Woman said. "How are you?"
"You look plump and well," Medicine Man said.
"What food do you eat?" Medicine Woman asked.
"We eat good food," Guard Deer said. "Would you like to see?"
"Yes, we would."
Guard Deer picked up one of the sticks and knocked on the entrance. "One fat buffalo."
A buffalo trotted out.
"That is impressive," Medicine Woman said.
"Watch this." Guard Deer hit the entrance again. "One buffalo calf."
A buffalo calf walked out.
"I am really impressed," Medicine Man said.
"Now you know how we get our food," Guard Deer said. "You may see no more."
"Thank you," Medicine Woman said.
As the medicine makers walked away, they whispered to each other.
"I do not believe that is all in their cave," Medicine Man said.
"I agree. We must find out what else is in there."
They hid behind a large rock while they considered their problem.
"Maybe we could change the sticks when Guard Deer looks the other way," Medicine Man said.
"Guard Deer is too sharp."
"That is true."
"They must change guards soon and the entrance will be unguarded for a brief time," Medicine Woman said.
"We must strike then."
Without making a sound, they worked their way back to the entrance. Concealed behind rocks and plants, they watched and waited. Soon Guard Deer stepped away to consult the next Guard Deer.
They raced to the entrance.
Medicine Woman grabbed a stick and hit the cave. "Two people."
Two warriors walked out.
Medicine Man placed his hand on the stick, and they struck again. "More men."
Many men ran out of the cave. All of them carried bows with arrows in quivers on their backs.
Deer erupted from all directions, but the warriors fought together to drive them back. When the battle was won by the People, most of the deer lay dead. The medicine makers turned to the deer still alive.
"We are the strongest so hereafter we will eat you," Medicine Man said.
"Your skin and bones, all of your body, will be used to help the People," Medicine Woman added.
Guard Deer raised a head. "So be it."

Copyright, 2000, Jane Archer

If you enjoyed this myth, read more in Texas Indian Myths and Legends by Jane Archer. Ask your librarian to order Texas Indian Myths and Legends for your school.

Did you like that myth? To learn more about Indian myths and for activities using myths check out our Indian Myths page.

When the Spanish tried to settle in Texas in the 1700s it was the Comanches who kept them in the south of Texas. After conquering so many other Indian cultures the Spanish could not defeat the Comanches and move farther north. When the Germans and Americans started moving near and into Comanche territory they were asking for trouble and they got it. The Comanches attacked settlers and stole horses and cattle from settlers just like they did from other Indian cultures and the Spanish. The Comanches would take captives whom they would offer to return for a price. The Comanches were not very good to have as neighbors.

The early Texans were not such nice guys either. At the Council House fight in San Antonio in 1840 the Texans used a flag of truce to lure 33 Comanche chiefs into town to talk and make peace. They then made demands the Indians could not meet or agree to. One of the goals of the meeting was to get captive whites back from the Comanche. The Comanche brought one captive to the meeting. They held others back to have something to negotiate with. Also, some white captives were under the control of bands of Comanche who did not come to the meeting. The Texans demanded that the Comanche turn over all the captives right away. When the Indians did not immediately give in to the demands, instead of honoring the white flag of truce, the Texans started shooting the surprised unarmed Indians. The Comanches fought back, but all of them were killed. Even the Comanches camped outside of town were attacked by surprise and many were killed. Everyone knows that white flag means a truce and not dirty tricks like that. After that the Comanches had a hard time trusting the word of any European. Recall in all of this that the Comanches had been taking captives from everyone around them and then negotiating and trading for goods to give them back for 200 years. The Texans either knew this or should have known. The Texans probably would have gotten the captives back without bloodshed if they had just negotiated in good faith.

The Council House fight led to the Great Raid of 1840. In August of 1840 the Comanches, led by war chief Buffalo Hump, raided all the way to the Texas coast. This was revenge for the Council House fight. They raided and burned the towns of Victoria and Linnville. They stole hundreds of horses and mules and as much stuff as they could carry. They then returned to their own lands. On the way back they fought the battle of Plum Creek near Lockhart.

In 1846 Buffalo Hump signed a treaty with the US government at Council Springs. He led the Comanches to the Brazos river reservation in 1849. In 1856 he led the Comanches to the Oklahoma reservation at Ft. Cobb. In 1892 the reservation was dissolved. Each family was given 160 acres. This was called an allotment. Allotment means dividing something up and allotting (giving parts) the parts to individuals. An allotment is like a share. The US Government got all the land that was not given to Comanche families and that was a lot of land. This land was sold to white settlers in 1901. 500,000 acres of Comanche land was held back, but it was leased to white ranchers in 1906. The Comanches still live in the area around the town of Lawton.

This was the time period of tribal enrollment. To get an allotment an Indian had to be enrolled in the tribe. Enrollment means they registered with the United States Government as a member of the tribe. Many Indians did not register for many reasons. This has caused trouble ever since. The Indians who did register say the Indians who did not are not really Indians anymore.

One reason many Indians did not enroll is because some of them were passing as white people. Many Indians were and are part white and look enough like a white person to mistaken for white. Being seen as white was important back in the 1890s because of the racism back then.

For you younger readers, there were many laws and customs in the 1890s and later that discriminated against what were called "persons of color" or colored persons. Persons of color were Africans, Mexicans, Chinese and of course Indians. Of course the term colored means their skin was not white. There were laws back then called Jim Crow laws that banned colored persons from sitting in or eating in white only restaurants. Persons of color were not allowed in the city limits of many towns after dark. Businesses could refuse to do business with them and did so. In some places Jim Crow laws required persons of color to always be employed or be sent to prison to work on convict labor gangs. Persons of color or "coloreds' as they were called by whites were not allowed to vote, could not hold elected office, and were not allowed to sue or use the court system. Their children had to go to substandard colored schools and often had no schools. Many jobs and professions were forbidden to coloreds. Most colleges in the south refused colored students by law. In most towns they had to live in colored sections of town and could not buy or live in white only parts of town. So, if an Indian could pass as being white they did. Many did not want to enroll and come under the Jim Crow laws.

Life on the reservations was very hard on all the Indians. Often the U S government did not honor its promises to provide food and shelter. As time went on the better land on the reservation was taken away and given to whites. But the worst part was the racial discrimination. Indians were treated the way black and Hispanic people were treated and often worse. They had few or no rights. They were not allowed to have good jobs or a good education. Indian children were often taken away from their families and sent to far off schools. Schools where the boys were trained to be farm hands and laborers for white people and the girls were taught to be maids and cooks. For many years they were not allowed to have good jobs . All of this forced the Comanches to live in poverty for many years.

Much has changed for the Comanche and now they are doing much better. They have much better schools and many of them now got to college. There are Comanche doctors, lawyers and teachers now. Most of them live in decent houses and own cars or trucks.

There are quite a few Comanches living today and they are all proud of their culture. Comanches today live in houses like everyone else. They drive cars and the kids go to schools on busses. They can get a burger down at McDonalds if they want. They also still get together and do the old dances and sing the old songs in Comanche. Elders still tell the old stories about Comanche heroes and the old days when the Comanches ruled the southern plains.

Names from Comanches

Americans : pabotabeb

Arrow : pacande

Arrowhead : tahka

Bear : guasape White bear : tosaguara

Bird : juhtzu

Black : tuhubit

Brave : teconiuap

Buffalo : cuhtz

Butterfly : ueyahcora

Cardinal bird : ecjuhtzu

Chewing gum : sanahco

Clothing : nenamuiecap

Colt : pucurua

CORN : janib

Cougar : toyarohco

Coyote : tzena

Dance : nihcaro

Dawn : nabuni

Deer : areca

Dream : nabusiaep

Drink : jibito

Drum : sabahpaqui

Eagle : piajuhtzu

Flea : ecapusia

Flint : tetecae

Flower : sahtotzip

Gold : oaui

Gourd : oteauh

Grandfather : roco

Grandmother : caco

Hand : moo

Hat : suparello

Honey : uobipihuab

Horse : puc ; Mustang horse cobe

Hummingbird : temuqit

Jaguar : naboroya

Kiss : murrae

Knife : ui

Leather : taibobicap

Man : tenahpua

Meat : tehcap

Morning star : tahtatzi-nupi

Mother : pia

North Star : tatzinupi-puetuh-catutamiae

Old : puetep

Owl : mupitz neminoet

PayPal : PayPal see Gold : auui

Rabbit : tabo

Rainbow : paracoa

Rattle Snake : uehquetzutzu

Skunk : nabohcutz

Sky : tomobi

Spider : tatetz

Sun : taabe

Thunder : tomoyaque

Turkey : cuyon

Turtle : uacani

Ugly : ayaquia ayo

Warbonnet : tunahuasa

Water : uahpahcaep

White : tosabite

Wolf : piasa

Woman : guahpe

Wood : juhpi

Worm : uoabi

Yellow : ojapite

Yes : jaa


 "Comanches: destruction of a people", by T. R. Fehrenbach SOLD OUT. NO MORE COMING IN.

I leave these book so you can find it in Amazon or other books.

Back to the Texas Indians home page

Copyright by R Edward. Moore and Texarch Associates,1998, 2000, 2012 all rights reserved. Graphics may not be used or reproduced without prior permission. Short parts of text may be quoted in school reports. Longer quotes require prior written permission.





Hit Counter