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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index
THOMAS, R. B.
HISTORY OF THE COMANCHE INDIANS.
The Comanche Indians settled in Southwestern Oklahoma after the Medicine Lodge Treaty in 1867. They agreed to accept a territory comprising all the area now composing Western Oklahoma. The Government moved them there in 1871 and allotted them in and around where are now Comanche, Cotton, Tillman, Kiowa and Caddo Counties. Lawton, Fort Sill, Apache, Cache, Indiahoma, Snyder, Walters and Geronimo were the principal towns in the heart of the Comanche country.
The Kiowas settled in Caddo and Kiowa Counties, the Cheyenne in Roger Mills, Custer, and Washita Counties. The Caddoes are in Caddo County. There are not many Caddoes left. The Government issued rations to them until 1901, when their land was thrown open to settlement.
At that time Lawton, Anadarko, and Hobart sprang up as three county seat towns of Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo Counties respectively and the Kiowa-Comanche Indian Agency was established at Anadarko with Colonel Randelette as agent.
The Government allotted each Indian 160 acres of land. It was in 1906, the Big Pasture, a tract of land in Comanche, Tillman and Cotton Counties, was thrown open to settlement and the younger generation of Comanches were allotted land in that reservation so that now all the land is allotted.
They established trading stores in 1874, one at Rainy Mountain, two at Fort Sill, and one at the reservation, one mile west of where the town of Cache now is.
In 1886, there was a reservation established two miles south of Fort Sill. Sam Strauss, Colonel R. A. Sneed, Emmitt Cox, and Haden and George Paschall all had Indian Trading stores at this place. Boke and Cleveland had two at Anadarko.
Also an agency was established one mile west of Cache, and G. M. Harris and Earl James put up an Indian trading store there in 1890. It continued until 1905, while three at Fort Sill stayed in business until 1912, when the Government ordered them discontinued.
The Government had semi-annual payments from 1901 to 1912, and the officials would gather at Lawton, Walter, Cache, and at the three Red Stores Agency, near Lawton, and bring a staff of clerks and give every Indian his check. I remember one payment in 1907 where every man, woman, and child received $100.00 each. If a man had seven children his family go nine checks or $900.00. This was money received from the rental of their lands and accrued interest.
I was clerking for Mr. Paschall near Lawton in the old Red Store and I sold $286.00 worth of goods that day myself but I worked from six in the morning to two the following morning; and then I attended a dance the remainder of the night where all the tribes were dancing in front of the three stores.
The Plains Indian Tribes always visit each other during these payments and it is the custom to give the visiting tribe presents. They would place in the dance ring flour, blankets, and trinkets of all kinds.
I smoked the Pipe of Peace with them that night and danced about twenty minutes.
They had four Tom Toms and made a great deal of dance music. Some of the Indians were nearly nude, wearing only a breech clout and being painted with vermillion, yellow, red, and orange all over face and body with lots or ornaments and bells on their legs and body. They would dance until exhausted but there was plenty to take their place. They passed the Pipe of Peace along the line and each took a puff toward Heaven and then toward earth.
The Sun is worshiped by the Comanches because it is between them and the Great Spirit. They believe in a deity but show fidelity by worshiping the Sun, then Mother Earth is worshiped next. The two are synonymous of life and nature, without them they would perish; in other words they worship nature.
The Savage Indians are very religious: 99% of them are Christians now; it was easy to convert them because they believed in a deity, therefore, they are true Christians at heart and the missionaries had no trouble getting them to follow Him.
The Comanche Indians are great horsemen. Catlin drew a picture which is in the capitol build-ing now, and he says the Comanches were the first to use the horse of all the Plains Tribes. They used the horse back in the Fifteenth Century. Most Indians did not travel far away but the Comanches began to use horses and they traveled a long way. That accounts for there being six bands divided and scattered, some in the West, some in the South, some here and there. At one time there were 12 bands but in the Eighteenth Century six of these bands had been exterminated by war, disease, or plagues, or by inter-marriage with other tribes and the great Quahadas and five other bands drifted southwest from around the Yellowstone River and the Black Hills of South Dakota and Montana. The Quahada (meaning antelope) is the band or tribe around in Comanche County. Quanah Parker was a Quahada, he was a Chief; Nocona also was a Quahada, so was Ten Bears, a signer of the Medicine Lodge Treat. The Penetakas (Honey Eaters) and the Yamikaras (Root Eaters) were two important bands and they had a language somewhat alike. The Quahadas number about 2100 Indians at present and the language is gradually dying out because the young Indians go to English school and pick up English and forget a great deal of the Comanche language.
The Government established a school at Fort Sill for the Comanches. Professor Hedon was Principal from 1900 to 1910. A hospital for the Indians was established near the school, two miles north of Lawton. This hospital is up to date and has all modern equipment. The school has a large attendance and has turned out some fine work and many outstanding students. White Parker, son of Chief Quanah Parker, went there. He is now a Methodist Minister at Fletcher. However, the Govern-ment has now made arrangement for the public schools to educate the children and Comanche Indians now go to the white public schools anywhere. The Government pays tuition on each one. It was formerly compulsory to go to school at Lawton from all over the district and board there. The Indians did not like to be separated from their children and it was a difficult matter to get them to go to Fort Sill. For this reason the Government changed its policy and made arrangements with the public schools for attendance there.
The Comanches are great hunters and fine marks-man. I have seen them shoot a steer with a bow and arrow while running at full speed on a horse. They love horses and horse racing. From 1901 to 1915 they had a great many race horses and some still participate in this great sport. They rode bare-back. There was no unfair play. The best horses won. They bet all they had or could borrow on their horse winning. I remember Marcus Poco had a fine race horse in a Cache race in 1904. He lost one race and Marcus lost $200.00. He was sick because all the Indians thought he would best this old gypsy horse with burrs in his mane and tail. They really jockeyed the Indians out of several hundred dollars by fixing the horse that way.
The Comanches are great beef eaters and like raw meat. They used to follow us when we butchered and eat the kidneys, liver, and other parts of the raw meat that we would give them, even the entrails. The Comanches are great gamblers or were in the early days until the Government stopped the practice, Monte was the game they liked best. I have seen them camp for months at a time and gamble 10 hours a day sitting on the ground on a blanket, women, men and children. But in 1912 the Government stopped this practice.
The Comanches now all have good houses and most of them are farming and they are becoming religious and better citizens.
Transcribed for OKGenWeb by
Greg James , May 2002.