Comanche (people)

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Flag of the Comanche
Tribal area of ​​the Comanche, the so-called Comancheria
Comanche woman with baby, Edward Curtis , 1927
Portrait of the Penateka-Comanche Asa Havi or Milky Way , 1872

The Comanche , including Comanche called, are a multi-ethnic people of the North American Indians , whose ancestors together with the linguistically and culturally related Eastern Shoshone once in the upper reaches of the Platte River in eastern Wyoming lived before the beginning / middle of the 17th century over the Great Basin advanced south and southeast onto the Central Plains . From 1750, the Comanche were the dominant military and political power of the Southern Plains and had established a trading network in the border regions in the southwestern United States . As nomadic Plains Indians , they belonged to the cultural area of ​​the prairies and plains , but had retained some of the traditions of the tribes of the Great Basin.


Their language - the coma Czech language , or Nʉmʉ Tekwapʉ (pronounced rekʷapɨ Nɨmɨ, "language of the people") - is an indigenous language of North America , and along with the dialect continuum of Shoshoni (Shoshone) and the Timbisha to the Central Numic languages , the northernmost Branch of the Uto-Aztec language family . Their language and the dialect of the Eastern Shoshone are so close that some linguists consider the Comanche (Nʉmʉ Tekwapʉ) as another dialect of the Shoshoni (Shoshone); however, due to a sound shift in the Comanche (Nʉmʉ Tekwapʉ) , both are not mutually understandable . It is believed that there were several regional slightly different dialects (or subdialects) spoken by the respective bands; today, however, the variant of the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ (Kwahadi, Quohada) gang is mostly spoken.

Once the formed Comanche (Nʉmʉ Tekwapʉ) next to the Spanish ( Yuhu taibo Tekwapʉ ) the traffic and commercial language of the strains on the Southern Plains and the Southwest. Today, most of the more than 15,000 Comancheese speak American English ( Taibo Tekwapʉ ) and only about 30 speak their own language (as of 2013).


The name Comanche is a Spanish modification of Kɨmantsi or Kohmáhts - "Strangers, enemies, literally: those who always want to fight me", the name of the Ute originally for all hostile tribes ( Arapaho , Cheyenne , Kiowa and others). Since the first Comanche appeared in New Mexico accompanied by the Ute, who was allied with them at the time, the Spaniards first adopted this name as Komántcia and later changed it to Comanche . However, when the Ute-Comanche alliance broke up from 1726 and the two peoples became bitter enemies, the Ute began to refer to the Comanche alone with this name. In the sign language on the Plains - the so-called Plains Indian Sign Language - the Comanche were known as snakes , whereas the Comanche referred to the Ute and Shoshone as snakes .

Due to their warlike character, the Comanche were often known simply as "enemies" or "snakes" (reference to their Shoshone descent, meaning enemy) among neighboring tribes. The Navajo (Diné) called them Naałání ("many enemies", collective term for all Plains tribes, but later specifically for the Comanche), the Arapaho Coo3o ' (English pronunciation: Cootho' - "enemies"), the Kiowa referred to them as Gyaiko (“enemies”), the Kiowa Apaches (Plains Apache) and Lipan Apaches as Idahi (“enemies”), the Mescalero Apaches and Jicarilla Apaches as Indá (“enemies”), the Comecrudo as Selakampom (designation for all warlike tribes, but especially for Comanche), the Caddo-speaking Wichita as Nataa , the Waco (Hueco) as Naratah and the Kichai (Kitsai) as Nanita , all of which means "snakes, ie enemies". The Cheyenne called them Šé'šenovotsétaneo'o ("snake people"), the later allied Kiowa Bodalk Inago ("snake people") or Sanko ("snakes"), hence in French as Gens du Serpent ("snake people ") And (together with the Shoshone) in English also initially referred to as snakes (" snakes ").

Like many indigenous peoples , they simply referred to themselves as Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Numunuu), Numinu, Nemene, Nermernuh, Nimma or Nömön (“the people”), depending on the dialect .

History during Spanish and Mexican rule

Displacement of the Apaches from the Plains

After taking over the horse from around 1650, the Comanche, together with their related Ute, as well as the Wichita, Caddo , Tonkawa and Hasinai (tribes that had suffered greatly from the Apache raids ), displaced the previously dominant Apaches from the plains. By 1740 the Comanche had almost completely displaced the Apaches from the Southern Plains, and the area between the upper reaches of Arkansas in Oklahoma , the eastern part of Llano Estacado and up to the Edwards Plateau in southern Texas became known as Comancheria . The Jicarilla, Mescalero and Lipan were particularly affected by the strengthening of the Comanche, as every bison hunt also meant a possible conflict with the Comanche.

In addition, the Comanche population increased significantly during these years. This was due to various reasons, such as unrestricted access to the richest bison hunting grounds, the adoption of a considerable number of captured women and children of rival tribes, the influx of Shoshone and some arapaho, and the high-yielding trade with the eastern pueblo , from which they obtained watermelons , pumpkins , corn , Beans, wool, and later wheat and metal utensils. In the late 18th century to around 1830, the Comanche numbered around 30,000 to 40,000 people, making them the largest people on the Southern Plains and in the adjacent southwest.

Horses as a key element of hegemony

The possession of horses was the central element in the emergence of the Comanche as a separate people and culture (there is the speculation that it was not the search for richer bison hunting grounds, but the horses of the settlers of New Spain that prompted the Comanche to settle from the Shoshone).

In the middle of the 19th century, they supplied French and American traders as well as settlers and migrants (on the way to the California gold rush ) and other Indian tribes with horses. Many of these horses sold were stolen as the Comanche were famous horse thieves and later cattle thieves. Their victims were Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans and other Plains tribes.

Comancheria around 1850

In addition, the Comanche had access to large Mustang RANGES, numbering about two million animals in the Comancheria and adjacent areas. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, their nomadic and martial lifestyle required at least one horse per person. With a population of at least 30,000, the Comanche had herds that exceeded this need several times over. Therefore the Comanche always had a horse surplus of approx. 90,000 to 120,000 animals for trade.

According to consistent eyewitness reports from Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans and captured whites, the Comanche, in contrast to the light-footed Apaches, famous for being particularly persistent runners, appeared clumsy and clumsy on foot. But once they were in the saddle, this impression changed immediately - then they looked elegant and sovereign. The Comanche were soon referred to as the Lords of the Plains and were widely considered to be excellent horsemen.

Alliance of the Spaniards with the Comanche against the Apaches

Around 1786 the western Comanche tribes were defeated and then showed themselves ready to enter into an alliance with the Spaniards against the Apaches. This alliance required that the Comanche first make peace with the Diné , Pueblo , Jicarilla Apache and their former allies, the Ute . In return, the Spanish markets in New Mexico and northern Mexico were opened to them, where they could exchange their goods such as bison meat and hides for weapons, ammunition, corn, beans, grain, clothing and other goods. In addition, it was now easier for them to do business with the Pueblo, especially with Taos , which until then had maintained close contacts with the Jicarilla and developed into one of the most important trading bases after the peace treaty.

Individual Comanche chiefs were given permits showing them as friends of the Spaniards and entitling them to move freely in the Spanish lands. The content of the contract, which provided for joint military actions against the Apaches, also included that the Comanche received a bonus for every Apache killed, approx. 100 Pesos for a killed warrior (aged 14 and over), 50 Pesos for a woman and 25 for a child Pesos (at that time one peso was equivalent to about one dollar, after the American-Mexican War the premiums for Apache scalps were increased significantly to compensate for inflation).

When the militarily and personally weaker Eastern Comanche tribes refused to make peace with the Spaniards in Texas at first, they were urged to do so by several Western Comanche. Most of the Eastern Comanche began to hunt Apache slaves , as there was a demand for Apaches as slaves in French-occupied Louisiana . In addition, the Spaniards required the Comanche to undertake activities against the Apaches of their own accord.

Since the Apaches, in return, were strictly denied access to arms and trade goods by the Spaniards, they had to keep away from the more numerous and better armed Comanche and their allies (the Norteños - Wichita, Caddo, Hasinai and Tonkawa ) from the southern plains in withdraw the mountains and intensify their raids against the Spaniards and Mexicans as well as sedentary, arable Indians in order to get urgently needed food, goods, horses and slaves. The goods captured in this way were passed on by the Mescalero and the southern and northern Lipan groups to the eastern groups of the Lipan, who exchanged them for weapons and ammunition with the Biloxi , so that the Apaches were soon armed accordingly and their Indian as well as white enemies could better fight back.

These raids, carried out more and more brutally and desperately by the Apaches, hit the Spaniards and their allied tribes ( Coahuiltec , Jumano and Tobosos in the east, Sobaipuri , Upper Pima and Opata in the west) particularly hard, so that the Spaniards sent many smaller tribal groups on missions and had to protect them from the Apaches by presidios (comparable to the American forts ). The partial annihilation and expulsion of individual tribes (as well as the concentration of once nomadic tribal groups in permanent mission settlements by the Spaniards and Mexicans) by the Apaches, who dodged south into the deserts and mountains of northern Mexico in front of the Comanche, resulted in the Apacheria heading south and The south-west stretched extremely and was therefore much closer (and more dangerous to them) to the white and Indian settlements than ever before. Since the Spaniards and Mexicans were always aware that they could not act successfully against Apaches and Comanche at the same time (and they feared the Comanche as a danger), they tried to prevent any initiation of peaceful relations between the two peoples, and strengthened and reminded them Comanche repeatedly at their hostility to the Apaches.

The Comanches called the Apaches (especially the Mescalero and Lipan) Esikwita ( gray butts , gray shit ) - this expresses the Comanche's contempt and hatred of the Apaches. The name most likely stems from the Lipan habit of smearing a gray paste on their skin and hair (the Lipan called themselves Hle-pai-Nde - 'light gray people'). In general, the Comanche called the Apaches Tá´-ashi (= "turned up") because of their high boots, which had a high point at the front to protect them from stones and thorns.

Comanche raids in Mexico

Since the western and eastern Comanche tribes only felt contractually bound to peace in New Mexico and Texas, they could see no wrong in killing and robbing Spaniards and Mexicans as well as Apaches in northern Mexico. In particular, the Yamparika living north of the Arkansas River and the Kwahadi living in the Llano Estacado , both of whom had never signed a contract, repeatedly appeared as robbers deep in Mexico.

In doing so, the Comanche gained the reputation of feared and cruel warriors, and they succeeded in stopping the advance of the Spaniards and even driving them from their plains areas. Their raids took them deep into Mexico in what is now the Mexican states of Chihuahua , Durango and Zacatecas . For the most part they plundered everything east of a line on the Rio Conchos , to the west mostly Apaches appeared as robbers. The Comanche raids were so violent and brutal that the Mexicans called September Comanche Moon , as they were particularly active just before the onset of winter. The infamous "Comanche Plunder Trail" (also known as the Great Comanche Trail ) led through the Trans-Pecos area and over the Edwards Plateau and then split again in different directions in Mexico.

Since the Trans-Pecos area, the Mapimi (also known as Bolsón de Mapimi ), northern Chihuahua, Coahuila , Tamaulipas and southern Texas were among the tribal areas of the Mescalero and Lipan, these areas were not without danger for returning war troops to traverse. Often the Apaches simply took the stolen goods from the Comanche by raiding them, robbing them and immediately retreating to their mountain fortresses.

Independence of Mexico and the collapse of the northern border

After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1820, the entire northern border collapsed. The new government did not have the money and material, or the number of soldiers, to occupy the presidios along the northern border. In addition, the Apaches had intensified and expanded their raids again. In the 1840s (especially during the Mexican-American War ) these looting was so serious for northern Mexico that entire regions had to be abandoned. Thousands of people were killed and abducted and cattle stolen. Never before had Kiowa, Comanche and Apaches invaded Mexico so deeply, and never before were they offered so little resistance.

As early as the 1830s, Mexicans had reported that Mescalero (probably Guhlkahéndé) sometimes got together with Comanche and Kiowa to go on raids in Mexico. In 1846, Kiowa and groups of the southern Comanche brokered a lasting peace between Mescalero and Comanche in a large meeting. The Lipan, for their part, had established largely peaceful contacts with the Comanche since 1811. Thus, the Comanche were able to steal south on their infamous "Comanche War Trail" undisturbed by the constant attacks of the Mescalero and Lipan and bring their booty home safely to the north. The peace provided the Comanche with the enormous knowledge of the Mescalero about northern Mexico, which had been taken over in many raids, and thus even led to joint raids and campaigns, with the Apaches often serving as scouts .

History during Texas and American rule

Ambivalent relationship to settlers and Indians

The Comanche had an ambivalent relationship with the Europeans and settlers who tried to colonize their territory. On the one hand, the Comanche were valued as trading partners by the settlers and the military, on the other hand, they were extremely feared because of their raids. In addition, the Comanche were almost always at war with most of the tribes of the Southern Plains, which enabled the Texans and later the Americans to form alliances against the Comanche.

Sam Houston , president of the newly formed Republic of Texas , almost succeeded in signing a lasting peace treaty with the Comanche. The treaty provided for an official line between Texas (and the white settlements) to the east and southeast and the Comancheria to the west and northwest. The Comanche wanted to secure their bison hunting grounds and avoid any military confrontation with the Texans. But this possible peace treaty failed at the Texas parliament because the MPs could not agree on an official border line between Texas and the Comancheria. In addition, this treaty would have raised the Comancheria to the same level as the Republic of Texas, which was incompatible with the self-image of the Texans as “civilized” people compared to the Comanche as “savages”.

After the unsuccessful peace efforts, the Comanche resumed their robberies on the Texan border and against the Texan settlements, which led in Texas to a relentless attitude towards all tribes still living in the republic.

Eternal peace treaty between Comanche and Germans

Despite the constant wars against Spaniards, Mexicans and Texans, the Comanche were able to maintain their independence and even expand their territory again. Hence, they were a serious military force in Texas.

To protect the settlements founded by German immigrants in Texas, the German John O. Meusebach (1812-1897), General Secretary of the Mainz Aristocracy Association , concluded a peace treaty with the Comanche chief Santa Anna in the spring of 1847 , which was never broken and its anniversary that is why the descendants of both parties - settlers of German origin and Comanche - still celebrate together in Fredericksburg as part of a folk festival.

Texan-Indian War

Attempts to reserve the Comanche began in the late 1860s with the Medicine Lodge Treaty (1867), which promised them churches, schools, and food supplies in exchange for giving up a large piece of land (over 160,000 square miles ). In addition, the government promised to stop the bison hunters who relentlessly slaughtered the large herds on the plains in order to destroy the foodstuffs of the tribes and render them defenseless. For this purpose, the Comanche, along with the Kiowa-Apaches, Kiowa, Cheyenne and Arapaho , should move to a reservation less than 13,000 square miles.

Despite their promise, the government did not prevent the further slaughter of the bison herds, which provoked the Comanche, led by the medicine man Isa-tai ("White Eagle"), to attack a group of bison hunters in the Texas Panhandle (so-called second battle of Adobe Walls ). The attack was a catastrophe for the Comanche and their allies, and the army was called in to bring the remaining Comanche to the reservation. Within just ten years, the bison were almost wiped out, and the Mustangs were shot down by the army by the thousands. Thus the way of life of the Plains tribes as nomadic hunters and warriors was finally ended. In 1875 the last free group of the Comanche surrendered under the leadership of Quanah Parker , the Quahadi from Llano Estacado, and moved to the Fort Sill Reservation in Oklahoma.

Tired of the reservation life and unhappy, 170 warriors and their families left the reservation under the leadership of Black Horse . They withdrew to the Llano Estacado and attacked camps of the bison hunters they hated. This led to the so-called Buffalo Hunters' War of 1877. In the attacks, the Comanche killed and wounded some hunters and stole horses. The hunters pursued the Comanche and ambushed them in Yellow House Canyon, Lubbock , Texas, but were repulsed by the Comanche. Among the hunters were four wounded and one fatally injured, the Indians had 35 dead and 22 wounded. The Comanche were able to escape together with the wounded former white prisoner of the Apaches, Herman Lehmann . Lehmann was called "Montechena" and was a warrior and chief of the Comanche. This was one of the last major armed conflicts with Comanche warriors.

Shortly after being introduced to the reservation, the Comanches and Kiowa adopted a new ritual from the Lipan-Apache, which is seen as the beginning of the Native American Church : At night a central fire was lit in a tent and a low, crescent-shaped earth altar was erected on top of it a peyote cactus was deposited. In the course of the ritual, people smoked, prayed and sang together with drums, before the hallucinogenic cactus (often only symbolically) was consumed. The purpose of the ritual was the healing of the sick and the acquisition of spiritual powers.

Last free years

After Victorio , chief of the Chihenne , an eastern group of the Chiricahua- Apache and often allies of the Mescalero, broke out of the reservation, 80 warriors of the Mescalero as well as some Lipan and scattered Comanche joined him and fought together Mexicans and Americans in northern Mexico and Texas. The last free Comanche groups joined the Mescalero and Lipan in their mountain fortresses in Coahuila and Chihuahua and carried out the last reported Indian raid in Texas in 1881. In 1883 desperate groups from Mescalero, Lipan, and a few Comanche made final raids along the Rio Penasco and Rio Pecos.


At the beginning of 1700, the Comanche was estimated at around 6,000 to 8,000 people. After the Comanche had largely ousted the Eastern Apache tribes of the Jicarilla Apache , Mescalero Apache and Lipan Apache from the central and southern plains between 1720 and 1740 , they not only took over their former position as a militarily and politically dominant power on the plains, but also took over their trading networks with the Pueblo peoples and Spanish settlements in New Mexico and Texas. The Comanche experienced steady population growth over the next few decades. On the one hand, they now had a better and safer food supply through bison hunt and exchange / trade ( pemmican , bison meat and hides, leather goods and slaves) with neighboring tribes and Spanish settlements (corn, pumpkins, watermelons, wheat, beans, etc.), on the other hand, the individual Comanche tribes and settlements experienced a hitherto unknown military and political security; because their warriors - through the mediation of the Wichita - were able to successfully defend their tribal areas and power by means of French weapons and stolen (and soon self-bred) horses.

In addition to fearless warriors, the Comanche were perhaps even greater diplomats , as they always managed to forge powerful alliances with Indian tribes and later Spanish (Mexican) settlements. Their Indian allies included the Ute (until 1726), Tonkawa (until 1750), Wichita, Caddo , Hasinai and later their former enemies - the Kiowa and Kiowa Apache (Plains Apache) (from 1790) as well as the Southern Cheyenne and Southern Arapaho (from 1840). From 1786, the Western Comanche in New Mexico and the Eastern Comanche in Texas each had an anti-Apache alliance with the Spaniards and their allied tribes. Through this permanent alliance in New Mexico (in Texas it only lasted a few years) the Comanche got contractually guaranteed trading and sales markets in New Mexico, campaigns against Apache were militarily supported by the Spaniards or stimulated by payments for Apache scalps or Apache ears . On the one hand, the bands sold stolen horses as well as Indian (later also white) prisoners in New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana, on the other hand they were able to compensate for their losses by integrating stolen Indian and white children and women and even enlarged the bands.

In 1750 they were already estimated to have 15,000 tribal members, and in 1780 they had reached the height of their power with a population of around 40,000 to 45,000; this made them by far the largest tribe on the southern plains. By several severe smallpox - epidemics (1780-1781, 1816-1817) their population was decimated to 20,000 and thus by almost half. The passage of fortune seekers during the California gold rush (1848-1854) through parts of the Comancheria brought again smallpox (1848) and an equally devastating outbreak of cholera (1849) to the Southern Plains, to which many Comanche and Kiowa fell victim. In 1849 the US government estimated the Comanche to have around 20,000 tribal members, but in 1851 it was estimated that only around 12,000 (sometimes only 10,000) had survived. While the Comanche could never recover from the heavy losses, however, the competitive and hostile white population in Texas grew from 140,000 in 1847 to as much as 600,000 in the 1860s. With the return of smallpox from New Mexico to the Southern Plains in 1862 and cholera in 1867, the escalating conflict with the army and the settlers, the annihilation of the bison and the resulting famine, the Comanche suffered ever greater human losses; these losses have increased rapidly since the 1870s. In 1866 the population of the Comanche was estimated at around 4,700, in 1884 there were only 1,382. In 1910 only 1,171 lived.

Today there are again over 14,000 Comanche (according to the Comanche Nation's homepage), but this now includes 15,191 tribe members, of which 7,763 live in the Lawton-Fort-Sill area and in neighboring districts in southwest Oklahoma.

Society and internal structure

Socio-political organization

The social and political interaction and organization of the Comanche consisted of four different degrees of integration of groups and their demarcation and identity to the outside world. These were in turn through medicine societies (members of these societies had a single special power, called puha , which was revealed only to them), war societies (these organized the war expeditions and raids, the defense of the camp and the hunt), through trade (among the various groups as well as with neighboring peoples) and through a common foreign policy towards neighboring tribes (and later Europeans).

The Comanche were divided into four socio-political units:

  • the smallest was the patrilineal and patrilocal (the couple moved to the family of the man) nuclear family (Engl. nuclear family )
  • several related families formed a Numunahkahni or Nemenakane ( "people who live together in a household") or extended family (Engl. extended family )
  • one or more Numunahkahni / Nemenakane formed a local group (English local [residential] band / group or span. rancheria ), the members of which were therefore mostly related to one another; they also had common areas and their resources
  • several local groups in turn formed a band (group) (English band , Spanish tribú ), which understood itself as a unit due to relationship , common territory, dialect and cultural peculiarities; the groups referred to by the Americans as division or tribe (English tribe ) and by Spaniards / Mexicans as nación or rama ("branch") were mostly a regional and cultural collective term for larger and more powerful bands that were created by war and medical societies were connected to one another, had developed a common political and cultural identity and (mostly) consisted of related local groups or even bands; vis-à-vis outsiders, they mostly pursued common interests in hunting, collecting, in war and in peace, as well as in trade, and met at tribal gatherings.

Unlike the Cheyenne and Arapaho on the Central Plains , however, the Comanche never developed a political idea of ​​a nation or tribe. Although they recognized each other as Nemene based on their language and culture (and almost never waged war among themselves), this did not mean that the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ (Kwahadi / Quohada) pursued the same policy towards the settlements in New Mexico as the Kʉhtsʉtʉhka ( Kotsoteka) . Later, when the Comanche Society was about to be broken up, this could even lead to the once respected and feared Penatʉka Nʉʉ (Penateka) making themselves available as scouts for the Americans and Texans against Comanche who were still free.

Historical groupings and their names

Three naciónes

Up until around 1750, the Spaniards distinguished three large regional groupings (associations) of tribes and bands, which they called Nación or Rama - the Hʉpenʉʉ (Jupe, Hoipi) , Yaparʉhka (Yamparika) and Kʉhtsʉtʉhka (Kotsoteka) on the Central Plains between the Platte River and the Arkansas River .

These three groups had developed their own separate identities due to their partially different dialects, different tribal areas and the way of life and diet based on them. As from about 1740, more and more local groups and bands crossed the Arkansas River and to the south and southeast of the open flat Southern Plains and the peripheral areas of the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains) attracted, began this, on the basis of the occurring here huge bison herds as Kʉhtsʉtʉhka ( Kotsoteka) (" buffalo eater "). The bands, on the other hand, who lived on the Central Plains north of the Arkansas River until 1780, inhabited a more wooded area than the bands moving south and therefore also called themselves Hʉpenʉʉ (Jupe, Hoipi) ("forest wood people" or "forest people") ). The northernmost bands retained many of the cultural idiosyncrasies of the Great Basin people as they were the last to break away from the Shoshone and move to the Plains. They spoke a very different dialect (which was closest to the Eastern Shoshoni dialect) and therefore developed a separate and common identity from other Comanche as Yaparʉhka (Yamparika) ("(Yap) caraway root eater").

Cuchanec Orientales and Occidentales (Eastern and Western Comanche)

After the Mescalero-Apache , Jicarilla-Apache and Lipan-Apache were largely displaced from the southern plains and had to flee to their fringes and the adjacent Rocky Mountains, the Spaniards began to divide the now dominant Comanche into two geographical groupings, which were only partially the previous ones three naciónes corresponded. The bands of the Kʉhtsʉtʉhka (Kotsoteka) who moved southeast to the southern plains in Texas were called Cuchanec Orientales ("Eastern Cuchanec / Kotsoteka") or Eastern Comanche , the K ,htsʉtʉhka (Kotsoteka) who remained in the northwest and west - together with the meantime south to the North Canadian River drawn Hʉpenʉʉ (Jupe, Hoipi) (and sometimes the Yaparʉhka (Yamparika) ) - were, however, as Cuchanec Occidentales ( "Western Cuchanec / Kotsoteka") or Western Comanche referred.

The Cuchanec Orientales (Eastern Comanche) lived from the Edwards Plateau in the south north to the upper reaches of the Brazos River and the Colorado River in the Plains of Texas and east to the Western Cross Timbers in central Texas. The Cuchanec Occidentales (Western Comanche) lived along the upper reaches of the Arkansas River , Canadian River and Red River in eastern Colorado , in the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle and in the Llano Estacado in northeast and eastern New Mexico .

Northern, Middle, Southern and Western Comanche

In the course of the 19th century no distinction was made between Western Comanche and Eastern Comanche ; the Hʉpenʉʉ (Jupe, Hoipi) were no longer mentioned in historical records, presumably they merged with other bands as they moved south - possibly they are the ancestors of the now emerging powerful Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni) , the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ (Kwahadi, Quohada ) and the Hʉpenʉʉ (Hois) local group of the Penatʉka Nʉʉ (Penateka). By the advance of allied Kiowa and Kiowa-Apache (Plains Apache) in the northern Comancheria some local groups and bands subjected to Yaparʉhka (Yamparika) also to the southeast and joined the local Eastern Comanche and were as Tahnahwah (Tenawa, Tenahwit) known . The power as well as the success of the Comanche also attracted bands from neighboring peoples who joined them and became part of the Comanche society; one group of the Arapaho became known as the Saria Tʉhka (Chariticas, Sata Teichas) band, one group of the Shoshone as the Pohoi (Pohoee) band. In addition to the Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni) , the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ (Kwahadi, Quohada) appeared as a new powerful band, originally some local groups of the Kʉhtsʉtʉhka (Kotsoteka) from the Cimarron River Valley as well as descendants of some Hʉpenʉʉ (Jupe, Hoipi) , who both head south were drawn.

The Texans and Americans divided the Comanche into five large dominant bands - the Yaparʉhka (Yamparika), Kʉhtsʉtʉhka (Kotsoteka), Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni), Penatʉka Nʉʉ (Penateka) and Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ (Kwahadi, Quohada) , which they in turn into the first three Subdivided (later four) regional groupings.

The northernmost band were the Yaparʉhka (Yamparika) between the Arkansas River and the Canadian River, comprising numerous local groups ; south of them lived the prominent and powerful Kʉhtsʉtʉhka (Kotsoteka) , their local groups on the high plains of Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles between the Red and Canadian Rivers roamed in the bison-rich Red River Valley , the famous Palo Duro Canyon offered them and their herds of horses protection from strong winter storms and from enemies, was rich in water, game, edible plants, forest and raw materials for the manufacture of weapons and tools. Since both bands had their roaming areas in the northernmost part of the Comancheria, they were called Northern Comanche ("Northern Comanche").

The aggressive Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni) ("hikers", "those who turn back") were known for their perpetual wanderings on the southern plains of Texas between the upper reaches of the Red River and the Colorado Rivers in the south and the Western Cross Timbers in the east , Their preferred home ranges were on the upper reaches of the Brazos River and its tributaries (Main, Double Mountain, Clear Fork, Salt Fork, Middle), and protection from storms and enemies were found in the Pease River area . With them, two smaller bands shared mostly the same tribal areas - the Tahnahwah (Tenawa, Tenahwit) ("The Downstream Lives ") and Tanimʉʉ (Tanima, Dahaʉi, Tevawish) ("Liver Eaters") - all three bands were together as Middle Comanche ("Middle or Central Comanche") known because they lived "in the middle" of the Comancheria.

The southernmost, largest and most famous band among the whites were the Penatʉka Nʉʉ (Penateka) ("honey eaters"), as they lived near the first Spanish and Texan settlements; their tribal areas, often rich in forests and water , extended from the upper reaches of the rivers in central Texas and the Colorado River southward, including large parts of the Edwards Plateau, and eastward to the Western Cross Timbers; Because of their tribal areas, they were therefore called Southern Comanche ("Southern Comanche").

As already mentioned, the Kwaarʉ N entstanden (Kwahadi, Quohada) ("Antelope Eaters "), who lived on the hot, shadowless, desert plateaus of the Llano Estacado in eastern New Mexico and in the Tule Canyon and formed the last independent and large band in the 19th century Palo Duro Canyon in northeast Texas found shelter. They were the only band that never signed a deal with the Texans or Americans, and they were the last to give up the resistance. Due to their relative isolation from the other bands on the westernmost edge of the Comancheria, they were referred to as Western Comanche ("Western Comanche").

Bands and local groups of the Comanche (Numunuu)

  • Hʉpenʉʉ or Jupe, Hoipi ("Waldholz-Volk" or "Wald-Volk", in Spanish as Hoipi or Hupe , in English as Jupe in writing, other variants: Hupene, Yupini ; one of the three mentioned by the Spaniards in the 18th century Naciónes (regional associations of several bands and local groups), no longer mentioned at the beginning of the 19th century, probably merged with other bands when they moved south - they may be the ancestors of the now emerging powerful Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni) , the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ (Kwahadi , Quohada) and the Hʉpenʉʉ (Hois) local group of the Penatʉka Nʉʉ (Penateka) band)
  • Yaparʉhka or Yamparika ( Yapai Nʉʉ - "(Yap) caraway root eaters" because they those of parsnips similar edible Yampa root ( Perideridia gairdneri ) took advantage, formerly Widyʉ Nʉʉ, Widyʉ or Widyʉ Yapa - "People of awl", later as Tʉtsahkʉnanʉʉ or Ditsahkanah - "people sewing" means); one of the three Naciónes named by the Spaniards in the 18th century, at the beginning of the 19th century several Yaparʉhka local groups joined the Kʉhtsʉtʉhka local groups or Eastern Comanche, which had already moved to the southeast on the southern plains of Texas, and have now become a new one Band called Tahnahwah (known as Tenawa, Tenawhit )
    • Ketahtoh Tʉ / Ketatore local group ("those who do not wear shoes", also known as Napwat Tʉ - "do not wear shoes")
    • Motso Tʉ local group (derived from motso - "beard", hence the probable meaning "the bearded ones"; not to be confused with the Mʉtsahne / Motsai band)
    • Pibianigwai local group ("Those who speak loudly", "Those who ask aloud", perhaps refers to their - in the opinion of other Comanche - allegedly cheeky manner and rude behavior)
    • Sʉhmʉhtʉhka / Suhmuhtuhka local group ("Those who eat everything (edible)", probably an indication that, like their Shoshone relatives, they had no food taboos in times of need)
    • Tʉtsakʉ Nʉʉ / Titchahkaynah local group ("Those who make bags while they move"; since they made parfleches - bags of rawhide to store pemmican and dried meat - while traveling , a large and once independent band (presumably Shoshone) in the area west of today's city of Apache in Caddo County , Oklahoma; later the mighty Yaparʉhka joined)
    • Wahkoh local group ("shell ornament", probably refers to the decoration of their clothes)
    • Waw'ai / Wohoi local group (also Waaih - " maggots on the penis ", also Nahmahe'enah - "somehow (sexually) together", "have sexual intercourse") were so called and despised by other Comanche because they suspected they were incestuous To maintain relationships with one another)
  • Kʉhtsʉtʉhka or Kotsoteka ( " buffalo eater " in Spanish as Cuchanec , in English as Kotsai reproduced in writing, another variant: Tʉtsanoo Yehkʉ ; one of the three Naciones called by the Spaniards in the 18th century, drawn on the Plains to the southeast and south local groups Ancestors of the now emerging powerful Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni) and the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ (Kwahadi, Quohada) and together with Yaparʉhka local groups also moving southwards they formed the new band called Tahnahwah (Tenawa, Tenawhit) )
  • Nokoni Nʉʉ or Nokoni (“wanderers” - “those who travel around” or “those who always turn back ( move about ”), also as Noyʉhkanʉʉ or Nawyehkah - “those who never stay in one place (longer)”); after the death of their leading chief Peta Nocona , the father of Quanah Parker , in 1864, they were now called Tʉtsʉ Noyʉkanʉʉ or Detsanayʉka - "those with poor dwellings", "poor wanderers", as it was custom not to use the names of the deceased public speaking)
    • Nokoni Nʉʉ / Nokoni Band (the largest and most powerful band that the Tahnahwah and Tanimuu bands often joined in making decisions about war and peace)
    • Tahnahwah or Tenawa Band (also: Tenahwit - "Those who live downstream", emerged as a new band on the Southern Plains at the beginning of the 19th century when some local groups of the Yaparʉhka who had already moved to the south joined local groups of the Kʉhtsʉtʉhka , who were already there in 1845 a battle against the Mexicans practically wiped out)
    • Tanimʉʉ / Tanima Band (also: Tevawish or Dahaʉi - "liver eater", lived south of the Pease River in Texas)
  • Penatʉka Nʉʉ or Penateka (also: Pihnaatʉka, Penanʉʉ - " honey eater ", also called Pehnahterkʉh - "fast stinging (striking) like wasps ", as they were famous for their lightning- fast attacks and as robbers)
    • Penatʉka Nʉʉ / Penateka Band (several powerful local groups that exerted great political influence on neighboring local groups and therefore gave their name to the entire division / group)
    • Hʉpenʉʉ / Hois local group (also: Huuzinuu - "forest wood people" or "forest people"), probably descendants of local groups of the once powerful Hʉpenʉʉ (Jupe, Hoipi) who moved south on the plains , but no longer mentioned at the beginning of the 19th century become)
    • Kʉvahrahtpaht local group (" climbers " or "steep wall climbers ")
    • Taykahpwai or Tekapwai local group ("those without meat")
    • Tayʉʉwit or Teyʉwit local group ( "The Hospitable ")
  • Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ or Kwahadi, Quohada (also Kwahare - " antelope eater ", also known by their nickname Kwahihʉʉ Ki - "parasols on their backs", because they carried a square piece of rawhide on their backs, which they pulled over their heads to surround themselves on the desert-like plateaus of the Llano Estacado to protect them from the scorching sun; originally some local groups of the Kʉhtsʉtʉhka (Kotsoteka) from the Cimarron River Valley as well as the descendants of some Hʉpenʉʉ (Jupe, Hoipi) who had moved south , did not emerge until the 19th century as new powerful ones Tape in the far west of the Comancheria)
  • Mʉtsahne or Motsai Band ('Undercut Bank' - Prallhang , formerly known as Tumutsi ( tu - "black", mutsi - "pointed"), the name may refer to the Antelope Hills on the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle, were made around 1845 wiped out in a battle against the Mexicans)
  • Pagatsʉ or Pa'káh'tsa Band ("On the upper reaches of the river", also as Pahnaixte - "Those who live upstream")
  • Pékwi Tʉhka or Pekwi Tuhka Band (" fish eater ")
  • Pikaatamʉ band ("Buckskins, people sewing clothes made of suede ")
  • Saria Tʉhka or Sata Teichas Band (also: Chariticas - " dog eaters ", originally a band of the Arapaho , who were also called dog eaters by the Comanche )

More little known or smaller bands:

  • Guage-johe band
  • Hai'ne'na'ʉne or Hani Nʉmʉ band (also: Hainenaurie, Hainenaune - " people who eat corn ", not to be confused with the later name Hanitaibo for the Penatʉka Nʉʉ band)
  • It'chit'a'bʉd'ah or Utsu'itʉ band ("people of the cold" or "people in the north", perhaps just an alternative name for the northernmost Comanche band - the Yaparʉhka (Yamparika) - or for one of their local groups)
  • Itehtah'o band (presumably from other Comanche so called "Burnt meat" because they either always too much pemmican produced for the winter and the excess simply threw in the bushes and trees along the way or their surplus to meat threw away in the spring, where it then dried, turned black and looked like burned meat)
  • Kwashi band
  • Kewatsana or Kevátsana Band ('No Ribs' - "no ribs", probably an allusion to their good nutritional status, now no longer existent)
  • Muvinabore band
  • Naʉ'niem or No'na'ʉm Band ("ridge people" or "people of the hill range", probably an earlier name of the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ band, as they lived near the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico)
  • Ohnonʉʉ Band (also Ohnʉnʉnʉʉ, Onahʉnʉnʉʉ , lived in Caddo County near present-day Cyril, Oklahoma)
  • Pahʉraix or Parʉhʉya Band (“water horse”, also Parkeenaʉm or Paki Nʉmʉ - “water people” because they preferred to pitch their camps along lakes; were known among the Comanche as the best runners and lacrosse players, they were mostly thin and towered over all other bands of the mostly stocky Comanche with their height , presumably they were once a band of the Dhegiha Sioux of the Central Plains, known for their height , which had joined the Comanche)
  • Pohoi or Pohoee Band ("Wild Sage", originally a band of the Eastern Shoshone from Wyoming, later referred to as the Wind River Shoshone )
  • Tasipenanʉʉ Band (originally a band of the Kiowa Apache (Plains Apache) west of Anadarko , Oklahoma, who had joined the Comanche; their name is derived from the Comanche name for the Kiowa Apache as Tasi )
  • Wianʉʉ Band (also Wianʉ, Wia'ne - "eroding, collapsing hill", lived between a large mountain and a hill in an area characterized by severe erosion near today's city of Walters, Oklahoma, between the tributaries of the Red River, the East Creek and West Cache Creek)

Due to the similarity of the names that have been Tanimʉʉ (Tanima, Tevawish) with the Tahnahwah (Tenawa, Tenahwit) often mistaken by outsiders and often as a band considered; Since both also lived in the same tribal areas as the powerful Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni) and often pursued the same political and military interests with them, they were also simply viewed as two local groups or bands of the Nokoni Nʉʉ (Nokoni) . The largest and once most powerful band of the Comanche - the Penatʉka Nʉʉ (Penateka) - were also known by the names of their respective local groups as Hʉpenʉʉ (Hois), Kʉvahrahtpaht, Taykahpwai (Tekapwai) or as Tayʉʉwit (Teyʉwit) . Later, when they made themselves available to the whites as scouts against other Comanche, they were referred to by them as Hanitaibo - "white people [eating] corn".

Chiefs and leaders of the Comanche

  • Quanah Parker (* approx. 1845-1852 - † February 23, 1911, Quanah - "smell, fragrance" and Parker is the family name of his white mother Cynthia Ann Parker , last traditional chief of the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ band, led the Comanche in the Red River War from 1874 to 1875, the last conflict during the Texan Indian Wars ; later chief of the Comanche, successful rancher, politician and religious leader of the founder of the Native American Church )
  • Black Horse (*? - approx. 1900, Tu-uh-ku-mah , Tu-ukumah , contemptuously called Nigger Horse among the buffalo hunters, was also known as Pako-Riah - "Colt" or Ta-Peka - "rays of the sun"by the Comanche“Known, war chief of the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ Band, was elected second chief after Quanah Parker after the death of Chief Bull Bear in 1874, became known when he left the reservation with 170 warriors and their families in December 1876 and in the so-called Buffalo Hunters' War (Staked Plains War) of 1877 together with allied Apache targeted buffalo hunter camps because they destroyed their food base, this was the last Indian resistance in the Texas Panhandle and in the Llano Estacado)
  • Isa-tai ("Wolf Vulva" * or "Coyotes Vagina", approx. 1840 - approx. † 1890, originally Quenatosavit - called "White Eagle", medicine man of the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ Band and spiritual leader of the tribal alliance of the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne and Southern Arapaho at the so-called Second Battle of Adobe Walls, since his medicine failed, he was henceforth called contemptuously Isa-tai )
  • Carne Muerto (* 1832 - † 1860s, war chief of the Kwaarʉ Nʉʉ band, son of the famous Penatʉka Nʉʉ war chief Santa Anna, after the death of his father he joined the survivors of his group with the still resisting Comanche on the Llano Estacado until the 1860s several wars and raids, after the defeat in the Battle of Little Robe Creek on May 12, 1858 he disappears from the records)
  • Peta Nocona (* 1820 - † 1864, Puhtocnocony or Tah-con-ne-ah-pe-ah , last important chief of the Nokoni Nʉʉ Band, son of Iron Jacket and father of Quanah Parker)
  • Iron Jacket (* ca. 1780–1790 - † May 12, 1858, Po-bish-e-quasho, Po-hebitsquash, Pro-he-bits-quash-a, Po-bish-e-quasho - "Iron Shirt" Since heworea Spanish chain mail during battle, which protected him against light ammunition, the Comanche believed he could blow away the bullets by means of his spiritual power. He had a legendary reputation among Comanche as well as Mexicans and Texans and was even considered invulnerable. Between 1820 and 1850 as war chief and chief of the Nokoni Nʉʉ Band led numerous raids against settlements in Texas and Mexico, but was killed in the Battle of Little Robe Creek by a Tonkawa scout with a Henry rifle ; father of Peta Nocona and grandfather of Quanah Parker)
  • Buffalo Hump (* ca. 1790–1800; † 1870, leading war chief and medicine man of the Penatʉka Nʉʉ band, his Nʉmʉ tekwapu (Comanche) name was Po-cha-na-quar-hip - 'erection that won't go down' - " Erection that will not go away", the English name Buffalo Hump was introduced in the media, best known for the Great Raid of 1840 in revenge for the Council House Fight in which he defeated the two Texan coastal cities of Victoria and Linnville plundered and pillaged, Linnville was then the second largest port in Texas, moved to the reservation in 1856 after several peace negotiations)
  • Santa Anna (* ca. 1790s - † 1849, also: Santanna , after Buffalo Hump the most important war chief of the Penatʉka Nʉʉ band, visited Washington DC as the first chief of his band in December 1847, after which he was convinced that further resistance was futile and tried peace .. close result, he quickly lost prestige among the Comanche, so he organized 1848-1849 several forays to Mexico to prepare his prestige resist; the US army intervened and Santa Anna ended that in December 1849 killed a cholera - epidemic over 300 Penatʉka Nʉʉ - including Santa Anna. The members of Santa Anna's former followers joined other Comanche bands without a leader.)

Current situation

The Comanche Nation, like other tribes recognized by the US government, a sovereign nation within the US, had about 14,000 members in 2008, of which about half live in Oklahoma (Tribal Center in Lawton ). Fort Sill is still an army base , but the US Army pays little attention to the holy places of the Comanche, although there are corresponding legal bases and judgments. In 2010, a dispute over several years about the expansion of a service center at Medicine Bluff continued, a place that is equally sacred to Comanche, Kiowa , Wichita and Apaches.

See also


  • TR Fehrenbach: Comanches. Fackelträger-Verlag Schmidt-Küster Hanover, 1975. (Original title: Comanches , Verlag Alfred A. Knopf Inc. published 1974)
  • Thomas W. Kavanagh: The Comanches, A History 1706-1875. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, ISBN 0-8032-7792-X , 1996
  • WW Newcomb: The Indians of Texas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961, 13th edition, 2002
  • William C. Meadows: The Comanche Code Talkers of World War II. University of Texas Press 2003
  • F. Todd Smith: From Dominance to Disappearance: The Indians of Texas and the Near Southwest, 1786-1859. University of Nebraska Press, Norman and London, 2005, ISBN 0-8032-4313-8 .
  • Ernest Wallace and E. Adamson Hoebel: The Comanches, Lords of the South Plains ( The Civilization of the American Indian Series 34), University of Oklahoma Press, Norman and London, published 1952, reprint 1986, ISBN 0-8061-2040-1 .
  • Scott Zesch: The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier. St. Martin's Press, New York, 2004, ISBN 0-312-31789-1 .
  • Thomas A. Britton: The Lipan Apaches: People of Wind and Lightning. University of New Mexico Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8263-4586-8 .
  • Nancy McGown Minor: The Light Gray People: An Ethno-History of the Lipan Apaches of Texas and northern Mexico. University Press of America, Inc., 2009, ISBN 978-0-7618-4854-7 .
  • Nancy McGown Minor: Turning Adversity to Advantage: A History of the Lipan Apaches of Texas and northern Mexico, 1700-1900. University of America, Inc., 2009, ISBN 978-0-7618-4859-2 .
  • CL Sonnichsen: The Mescalero Apaches. University of Oklahoma Press, 1973, ISBN 0-8061-1615-3 .
  • José Cortéz: Views from the Apache Frontier: Report on the northern Provinces of New Spain. Ed .: Elizabeth AH John, University of Oklahoma Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8061-2609-4 .
  • Maria F. Wade: The Native Americans of the Edwards Plateau, 1582-1799. University of Texas Press, 2003, ISBN 0-292-79156-9 .
  • F. Todd Smith: From Dominance to Disappearance: The Indians of Texas and the Near Southwest, 1786-1859. University of Nebraska Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8032-4313-8 .
  • Pekka Hämäläinen: The Comanche empire (= The Lamar Series in Western History). Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2008, ISBN 978-0-300-15117-6 .
  • Brian DeLay: War of a Thousand Deserts. Indian Raids and the US-Mexican War (= The Lamar Series in Western History). New Haven and London 2008, ISBN 978-0-300-15837-3 .

Web links

Commons : Comanche  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Comanche History - Comanche Location (accessed July 21, 2014)
  3. ^ Arapaho Dictionary
  4. Christian F. Feest : Animated Worlds - The religions of the Indians of North America. In: Small Library of Religions. Volume 9, Herder, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-451-23849-7 , pp. 200-201.
  5. About the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, Pocket Pictorial ( Memento of the original from July 22, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , P. 12 (PDF, 9.4 MB). Here the number of 14,105 tribal members is given in the tribal roll. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. TW Kavanagh: The Comanches: A History 1706-1875, p. 41.
  7. ^ E. Wallace, EA Hoebel: The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains, pp. 25-31.
  8. TW Kavanagh: The Comanches: A History 1706-1875, p. 493.
  9. TW Kavanagh: The Comanches: A History 1706-1875, p. 497.
  10. Comanche History - Comanche Bands ( Memento of the original from May 13, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. Thomas W. Kavanagh: Comanche Ethnography: Field Notes of E. Adamson Hoebel, Waldo R. Wedel, Gustav G. Carlson, and Robert H. Lowie. University of Nebraska Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8032-2764-4 .
  12. ^ Army still threatens sacred site. In: Indian Country today, December 14, 2009