Manataka® American Indian Council
by Barbara Goodin
Comanches were rulers of the Great Plains in the 1700s and became known as the
Lords of the Southern Plains. Renowned for their horsemanship, they defended
their land from all intruders. The introduction of the horse to Comanche people
enable them to travel widely, striking terror into the hearts of their farthest
enemy. It also enabled them to provide the things necessary for their families
-- food, shelter and clothing.
Spaniards and Europeans were
their first outside contact, but that changed by the 1830s when white men pushed
westward towards a new frontier.
Comanche tribal government was
a democratic process, with organized bands, led by Band Chiefs, coming together
as needed to discuss important issues. At one time there may have been as many
as thirty five Bands, but during the nineteenth century there were five
outstanding bands identified. They were the Penat
(*See more information in "Comanche Bands" section.)
and Kuhtsut uuka.
(*See more information in "Comanche Bands" section.)
From the time white men pushed
westward towards a new frontier in the 1830s, many events occurred that altered
the way of life for this great tribe. The Treaty of Medicine Lodge, the Battle
of Adobe Walls, the Jerome Agreement and the Oklahoma land openings were but a
few of these events.
The Treaty of Medicine Lodge
was signed in 1867 in Kansas with the Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, Cheyenne and
Arapaho. The tribes were promised protection from the hunters who were killing
off the buffalo and were to be provided schools, churches and annuities. The
tribes, in turn, were to permit railroads to be built through their lands, cease
raiding and agree to live on a reservation to be set up for them. In addition,
38.5 million acres (60,000 square miles) were given up for a reservation that
contained just over three million acres (4,800 square miles). Reservation life
began for the Comanches in 1869.
Battle of Adobe Walls took place in the panhandle of Texas in 1874. Comanches,
Kiowas and Cheyennes attacked the hunters who were using the abandoned fort in
their quest to kill the buffalo for their hides. Although the hunters were
greatly outnumbered, the Indians were defeated because of the protection offered
by the fort itself and the long range buffalo rifles used by the hunters. The
battle was disastrous for the Indians. By 1880 both the buffalo and a way of
life for the Comanches were gone.
The Jerome Agreement of 1892
was signed at Fort Sill between the United States and the Kiowa, Comanche and
Apache (KCA) Tribes. The Agreement allotted each man, woman and child 160 acres
which was to be held in trust for them, free from taxation. In return the
Indians gave up all their lands with the exception of four tracts which
contained over a half million acres (862 square miles) and agreed to accept two
million dollars for the relinquished land. Bitterness resulted in that most of
the Indians did not want the Agreement at all. Indian leaders involved in the
negotiations asked for $2.50 an acre, but in the end they were paid $1.25 per
acre. By June 5, 1901, Indian land allotments were completed and this nomadic
tribe of the Plains settled into the life of farmers/ranchers.
Exactly five years later,
land-hungry "Boomers" forced the opening of the last remaining land held by the
Indians, an area that had come to be known as "The Big Pasture." Before it was
opened to white settlement, children born after the allotments of 1901 were
given land. The remainder was divided into tracts for the last big land opening
in Oklahoma's short history.
The Comanche Nation now numbers 13,000 persons, with more than half of them residing in this area of Southwest Oklahoma. The Comanche Nation Complex is located nine miles north of Lawton, Oklahoma, and offers many services for tribal members.
Comanche Nation is governed by a Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer
along with four business committee members. Jointly the elected officials are
known as the Comanche Business Committee, or the C.B.C. These persons are
elected by tribal members, who are the supreme governing body of the Comanche
Nation. A constitution adopted in 1967 sets forth the conditions under which
the Comanche Nation operates. The C.B.C meets monthly to take care of business,
with tribal members present and offering input into decisions that affect all
The Comanche Nation owns land
jointly with the Kiowa and Apache Tribes (known as the K.C.A.), but also owns
land on its own.
Comanches are the best
educated of all Indian tribes with more students per capita enrolled in higher
education. We have doctors, lawyers, chiefs ("chief" executive officers!),
teachers, principals, superintendents, registered nurses, actors, authors,
artists, craftsmen -- people in all professions -- who do an outstanding job
representing themselves and the Comanche people.
The Comanches have not been
"reservation" Indians since 1901. Many still live on their family's allotted
land, with others living in cities all over the country and overseas. Some
choose to lease their land, either to cattlemen or oil companies. A few are
wealthy, most are making ends meet, some struggle through each day. Many work 9
to 5 jobs, with others owning and operating their own business.
The Comanches were once known
as the Lords of the Southern Plains, and it is our vision to again be considered
as such. The Comanche Nation as a whole and the Comanche people as individuals
have gone through some very difficult times, but we are survivors. We are the N
um un uu.
Hanitaibo -- Corn People
-- Buffalo Eaters Band
Antelope Eaters Band
ki -- Back Shade Comanche Band
Kwa?ar u N uu -- Loud Speaking People Band
Nokoni / Nokonin
-- "They Travel Around"
/ Noy ukan uu -- Wanderers Band
Ohnonon uu / Onahunun uu -- Comanche Clan from Cyril area
Parukaa / Padouka -- name given the Comanches by the Sioux people
-- Fish Eaters Band
Penan uu / Pihnaat uka / Penat uka N uu -- Honey Eaters
Band, also known as Quick Striking
Pikaatamu -- Buckskin Sewing Band
/ Sata Teichas -- Dog Eaters Band
Liver Eaters Band living south of the Peace River in Texas
Yehk u -- Comanche Band
Wian uu / Wia?n uu -- Comanche Band from the Walters OK area
/ Yapai N uu / Yapain uu / Yapur uhka -- Root Eaters Band
um un uu
-- Comanche People (plural), "crawling on belly like a snake"
um u --
Comanche Person (singular)
*from Our Comanche Dictionary, published by the Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee
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