A COMANCHE HISTORY
by Barbara Goodin
The 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.
The 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
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
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.
The 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 members.
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
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
um un uu.
* * *
Hanitaibo -- Corn People
uuka -- Buffalo Eaters Band
u -- Antelope Eaters Band
uu ki -- Back Shade Comanche Band
u / Kwa?ar u N uu -- Loud
Speaking People Band
Nokoni / Nokonin
uu -- "They Travel Around"
uhkan uu / Noy ukan uu --
uu / Ohnonon uu / Onahunun uu --
Comanche Clan from Cyril area
Parukaa / Padouka -- name given the Comanches by the Sioux people
uhka -- Fish Eaters Band
uka / Penan uu / Pihnaat uka /
Penat uka N uu -- Honey Eaters Band, also known as Quick Striking
Pikaatamu -- Buckskin Sewing Band
uhka / Sata Teichas -- Dog Eaters Band
uu -- Liver Eaters Band living south of the Peace
River in Texas
utsanoo Yehk u -- Comanche Band
u / Wian uu / Wia?n uu -- Comanche Band
from the Walters OK area
uhka / 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
*from Our Comanche Dictionary, published by the Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee