Manataka American Indian Council
A Comanche Love Story
As an Indian boy and girl developed into young manhood and maidenhood, there was born in each heart that which is ever old, yet ever new. No Indian maiden was more beautiful than Weakeah; no Indian brave more courageous than Quanah. They were still devoted to each other as companions, but their love as sweethearts had never been plighted.
Then one day the eternal triangle began to assume shape. Chief Old Bear, Weakeah's father, had a visitor. It was young Tennap, rich old Ekitaocup's son, bearing beads and mirrors as presents to Weakeah. He stood for a while some distance from the teepee making soft sweet music on a flute. The third day he came again, nearer than the first, and again the melodious notes from the flute sounded on the evening air. In two days more he appeared, and spreading his blankets before the wickiup of Old Bear, seated himself upon them, with his eyes on the doorway, and with, no doubt, his heart in his mouth, played all the soft, melodious, plaintive love songs of his tribe.
Hid from view, inside the teepee, Weakeah heard the music and knew its meaning. Her heart answered, but its response was in a minor strain--a response of hatred, fear, and trembling.
Some one else heard the demonstrations of love, too; it was Quanah in the shadows. The soft, love strains had the same effect on his Comanche heart as it would have had on the white man's under similar circumstances, for the tender passions of the human heart are the same regardless of the race they represent. And the jealousy of his heart burned, as he saw the little girl of his childhood, the sweetheart of his young manhood, being wooed by his rival in love. Then, too, perhaps Weakeah's heart would answer those plaintive love strains, for was not Tennap's father, old Ekitaocup, rich in herds of ponies, wives,and children, while he, Quanah, had only one pony to his name?
On the evening of the third day old Ekitaocup visited Chief Old Bear as a go-between. In his youth, Ekitaocup had been a rival of Quanah's father Nocona for the hand of the beautiful Naduah, Quanah's mother. Down deep in his vengeful heart he would just as soon see the score against his successful rival settled, lending his hand to humble and humiliate Nocona's son.
Buffalo robes were spread before Old Bear's teepee, and for a long time the two old men sat and smoked the pipe of peace. In low and guarded tones, they talked over the love affairs of their children.
After dark, Quanah and Weakeah met at their special place in the shadows of the trees. Weakeah was frantic with fear. She knelt on the ground and, with her arms around Quanah's knees, begged him to save her from Tennap. She told him Tennap had offered ten ponies for her and begged him to get ten ponies and marry her himself. Poor Quanah, his heart was full of anger for Tennap, overflowing with love and pity for Weakeah, but he owned but one pony!
However, love knows no barrier. Quanah assured
Weakeah of his love before they separated and swore
he would save her from Tennap.
Later in the night Quanah called a few of his friends to his aid and told them the predicament he was in. They, too, hated Tennap, but like himself, they were poor and between them could not muster ten ponies. The next morning another council was held with the result that before night Quanah was presented with ten ponies and no questions asked. Quanah assured them
the ponies would be considered as a loan only, and with his own pony totaling the number asked for, he began to prepare them for the formal presentation.
Other secret meetings were held that day, too. Tennap's spies had listened and watched. As a result, when Quanah proudly drove his ponies to Old Bear's wickiup, hoping to claim his bride and win over his rival, he came face to face with old Ekitaocup whose gift of twenty ponies to Old Bear had just been presented and accepted. The old warrior showed by look and gesture his exultation over the poor son of his successful rival of his own youth Peta Nocona.
Inside the teepee on her knees before her mother, with prayers and tears, poor Weakeah was begging to be saved. Although Old Bear and his wife loved their beautiful daughter, ancient tribal laws and customs were stronger than parental love, and could not be broken. The word had gone forth. In two more suns, Weakeah would become the wife of one she both feared and hated.
But old Ekitaocup had not bargained with the cunning of Quanah when love was at stake. Before sundown of the first day, Quanah had again called his friends together. This time it was not for the useless asking of ponies but to propose a different plan. It was a plan which offered an opportunity for adventure in which they were to combine pleasure and spoils in their triumph over their enemy, for the young braves hated the proud, boastful Tennap as much as Quanah did. All entered into the secret plan. This time they saw to it that there were no spies to report their action.
That night after dark Weakeah eluded those who were watching her and stole a few minutes with her lover. Quanah laid his plans before her. The two more days would be up at sundown the next day. Their only hope was in flight. He reminded her of its penalty if caught: certain death for himself, perhaps for her; at least she would be delivered to Tennap, which would be worse than death to her. In true lovers' style, she showed no fear but was anxious to follow his plans.
At midnight, or just after the moon had set, she silently stole from her father's teepee, met Quanah and one of his friends. Noiselessly their moccasined feet passed through the camp without awakening the sleeping people or the dogs. On the edge of the camp they joined twenty-one other young men who were waiting with a pony in readiness for each of them.
Quanah, with Weakeah close beside him, led the line, followed by twenty-one other braves in true Comanche fashion. For seven hours they rode, breaking a lope only long enough to water their horses as they forded streams. Daylight found them hid in a secluded spot, making a breakfast of jerked buffalo meat, while their ponies grazed and rested. The coming day revealed to Weakeah that her wedding journey was a war party as well. Every brave was armed with guns, revolvers, bows, arrows, and shields ready to be put to instant defense, should their common enemy attempt her capture.
From this time on their journey was conducted with a great deal of strategy. Every day, before separating, they agreed to travel alone each by a different route, and all came together at a certain place at night. From dark until midnight they rested, then traveled together until daylight. After entering Texas, it was not safe to travel together either in daylight or dark. Sometimes they rode in couples, meeting at a designated spot for camp at night. They continued this mode of travel till they reached Double Mountain in Scurry County. Here they went into hiding for several weeks, resting their ponies and living on wild game.
Later the band settled on the Conchos, hiding in an almost inaccessible place from white men, safe from pursuit by their enemies. They chose Quanah as their chief and began to exist as a tribe. They prospered for the Comanches have the reputation of being the best mounted warriors in the world. In a few months they owned a large herd of the best horses, ponies,
and mules taken from the ranchmen all over the State of Texas.
Old Ekitaocup and his followers failed to follow Quanah's trail, or to discover the rendezvous of the eloping bride and groom. For over a year they remained in hiding. Then the young Indians began to venture to return home. Most of them returned later with wives, back to the leadership of their beloved Chief Quanah. Others from the original tribe joined his fearless band, until they numbered many hundreds. Then his hiding place became known.
One day the news was brought that Tennap with a strong band was preparing an attack. He was still determined to kill Quanah, secure Weakeah, and carry her back to become his wife. Both Quanah and Weakeah declared they would
choose death rather than be captured.
Quanah began to organize his band for the attack. As a result, when old Ekitaocup's band came, they found a well organized tribe with a fighter and a leader in Quanah, more than they had prepared for. Knowing that his chances of victory were hazardous, he proposed a compromise to which Quanah agreed. Meeting halfway between the two warlike bands, four chiefs from each side convened and smoked the pipe of peace. After a long pow-wow and much smoking, Ekitaocup agreed to accept, as a peace offering, nineteen of the best horses in Quanah's herd. Quanah said he knew where he could get nineteen others in a few hours and gladly accepted the offer.
Their quarrel settled, Quanah had the right to return to his father's band. Besides, his hiding place was known and inhospitable Texas was making desperate efforts to capture the Comanche too, his large band could not remain in successful hiding much longer.
Gathering together his followers, he started home.
He was joined on the way by other Indians, some from
his enemy's band. By the time he reached his native
haunts, instead of entering the tribe in disrepute,
he entered an acknowledged Chief, with a following
of several hundred braves. He was heralded for his
successful adventure in love, his prowess as a war
and his sagacity as a military leader.
Among the leaders of the tribe, Quanah rose rapidly to a place of commanding influence. He became leader of the Quohada, a feared and most hostile band that made daring and successful raids upon the ranches and forts along the Texas border.
His name and deeds were symbols of fear and terror to the white men. He was Chief of his band when the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 was made. By this Treaty, the Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, and Arapahos were assigned to reservations. The Quohada refused to go and continued raids till 1874.
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