Emily Falkenberg and Abby Lepinski
March 2010


The name Comanche is from the Ute word Komantcia, which means "anyone who wants to fight me all the time." The Comanche’s called themselves “The People.” When the other settlements of America expanded West, the Comanche escaped the stress and competition by goining southward in the early 1700's into the almost unsettled area of the enormous Southern Plains. For 150 years the Comanche´s ruled and had the power of the Southern Plains beating other Indian tribes such as Utes, Pawnees, Osages, Tonkawas, Apaches, and Navahos. From Kansas through Colorado and south a thousand miles into Old México, the Comanche made the Southern Plains a dangerous place for those groups trying to take over this territory, including settlers from the East. This made settlement and travelling undesirable to many other Tribes.


Below are some main events that happened during the 1870
Timeline of main events:
1848-49 outbreak of cholera and smallpox which lowered the Indian herds
1864 First Battle of Adobe Walls
Kit Carson led a group of cavalry to the Adobe Walls area, but was forced to retreat when several thousand Comanche attacked his unit.

They broke off from the Shoshone people living along the upper Platte River in Wyoming. This happened when they were introduced to the horse,brought from white man around this time. This allowed them greater mobility in their search for better hunting grounds.
Came into contact with the horse brought from white man around this time

The Battle of Adobe Walls took place in the panhandle of Texas.

Second Battle of Adobe Walls. White Eagle lead a Comanche force in the Texas Panhandle, angry that white hunters were continuing to kill the buffalo that they needed to survive, attacked a village that had sprung up at Adobe Walls to house and serve the bison hunters. It led to the Red River Wars
Red River War—brought about to force the Kiowa, Comanche, and other Indians onto reservations
Quanah Parker led the last free band of Comanche Indians, who surrendered and were moved to Fort Sill. This marks the end of the Red River War.

external image 255px-Comancheria.jpg
The comanches never had a designated location because they moved arround depending on where the buffalo would go. They relied on the buffalo for many things.The buffalo were very valuable to the Comanche Indians. The buffalo meat was dried and mixed with marrow and fruit to become a food that would keep for long periods of time. The Indians used hides to make ropes, shields, and clothing. The teepee was also made from the buffalo hide. Sinew or muscle was used to make bowstrings, moccasins, and bags. The bones were used to make hoes and runners for dog sleds. The horns were made into utensils such as a spoon, cup, or bowl. Even the hair could be made into rope.

A parfleche was used by the Comanche Indians to carry their possessions. It was made from a buffalo hide. The hide was cut into a large rectangular shape. Belongings were placed on the center of the hide. Then the hide was folded
Comanche Indian Basket
Comanche Indian Basket
like and envelope and tied with rawhidestraps. The parfleche was made water proof by covering it with a glue made by
boiling the tails of beavers.

The Comanche indians also used baskets instead of clay pots because they were easier to travel arround with. They use the teepees fo the same reason, the teepees can be easily packed away and put on a horses back to be moved.
The average minimum temperature in January is 32° F; the average maximum in July is 95°
The average minimum temperature in January is 32° F; the average maximum in July is 95°

Comanche County (was the Comanche's teritory), in central Texas, is bounded on the south by Mills County, on the west by Brown County, on the north by Eastland County and on the east by Hamilton and Erath counties. The county is named for the Comanche Indians, whose territory once included the area. Comanche County covers 944 square miles of rolling land with elevations from 650 to 1,700 feet. The center of the county lies at 31°55' north latitude and 98°40' west longitude. The area is drained by the North and South Leon rivers and their tributaries, which in turn flow into the Brazos River system. The northern part of the county is in the Western Cross Timbers region, which is characterized by light sand and loamy soils that support mixed woods of cedars, oaks, mesquites, and pecans. Southern Comanche County forms part of the southern edge of the Grand Prairie region and has dark waxy and dark loam soils. The county has a 238-day growing season and an average annual rainfall of 18.45 inches. The average minimum temperature in January is 32° F; the average maximum in July is 95°.


The Comanche were not a unified tribe, and were divided into 8 to 12 aut​onomous Sub-Nations. The Comanche Tribe is headed by a Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer along with four business committee members. The elected officials are known as the Comanche Business Committee (C.B.C.) elected by tribal members, who are the most powerful body of the Comanche Tribe. Comanche groups did not have a single acknowledged leader. Instead, a small number of generally recognized leaders acted as counsel. These included the peace chief, the members of the council, and the war chief.
In times of war, the group selected a war chief. The council elected a war chief during war, and this one person was in charge of speaking with the enemies leader and made all the strategic decisions. To be chosen for this position, a man had to prove he was a brave fighter. He also had to have the respect of all the other warriors in the group. While the group was at war, the war chief was in charge, and all the warriors had to obey him. After the war was over ,the war chief's power ended.

external image QuanahParker.jpg
There were several different leaders during the time of the Comanche tribe, a few of them were: Parker Quanah, young Quahadi medicine man for leadership. Isa-tai (later known as White Eagle), and chief ten bears. The Comanches never formed a single cohesive tribal unit but were divided into almost a dozen autonomous groups. These groups shared the same language and culture but fought among themselves just as often as they cooperated.
The Democratic principle was used in Comanche political organization. Each section of the tribe had both civil or peace chiefs and war chiefs, but usually the head civil chief had more influence on decisions. Leaders gained their positions through special abilities or prowess, and retained their power only so long as they had the confidence of group members, who chose their leaders.

The peace chief was usually an older individual, who could bring his experience to the task of advising. There was no formal election for the position of peace chief. The decision on whether or not to go to war went to the tribal council to decide. The council was usually made of all the men in the tribe and all where allowed to speak, it was the more established warriors who usually spoke.


humanities_pic._5.png The Comanche tribe was hunters and gatherers as this was the preeminent way to get food on the plains. The male on horsebacks caught large herds of buffalo pronghorn, antelope, and elk with ease, and the women gathered wild fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, roots and vegetables. These types of collecting food were used because it was the easiest way to get food on the plains. The food the women gathered made up much more of the food than the hunting by the men. Of course, when the men killed many buffalos there was plenty to eat. But, on a day-to-day basis the women gathered most of the food.

The Comanche were primarily a hunter-gatherer nomadic society, at least in the beginning. But trade also played a big part in their existence. For at least two hundred years before the white man came into the Comanche territory, they invaded Indian and Mexican settlements. They stole anything of value including women and children. The Comanche’s would then take these goods to Spanish or Mexican established outposts, and sell the goods back. Those they had stolen from found it much easier to buy the goods back than fight, because the Comanche’s were fierce fighters.

Further more the Comanche’s also got resourced through trade. They traded with the Spanish, and Mexican but also other Indigenous tribes. Through trade and raids the Comanche’s gained many things such as maize, dried pumpkin, and tobacco.

humanities_pic._6.pngThe Comanche’s economy was also affected greatly by horses. Between 1700 and 1875 it is said they stole every horse and mule in New Mexico and Northern Mexico and enough to make them scarce in Texas. During the golden rush they then sold the horses to Americans allowing the Americans to reach California and the Comanche tribe to make a fortune.

On the Great Plains region there were many different natural resources especially the wildlife and plant species. The buffalo was the most important natural resource of the Plains. The buffalo provided them with all the basic need: food clothing and shelter.
The plains also had other natural resources such as the fresh water. The fresh water came from the clear streams that flowed into the major rivers like the Cimarron River, the Pecos River, the Brazos River, and the Red River. The plains had plant species as well such as wheat, and cactus,. The wheat and cactus was used in traditional recipes and everyday food.

Agriculture didn’t have an impact on the Comanche’s. The Comanche Indians didn’t need agriculture because the buffalo replaced the need for sustained agriculture. The buffalo provided everything from food, shelter, clothing, weapons, tools, and even drink. The Comanche’s thought it easier to hunt than grow vegetables, and fruits because the weather wasn’t right. In summer it reached 100 degrees and in winter it went below 40 degrees with floods.

Today, the Comanche Nation consists of 14105 members. They have left their old way of behind and joined the modern day way of life. Their economy is not as good as it used to be, because the white man has taken over their territory. Today many Comanche’s have become active participants in the general economy. While some of their territory has remained in Indian hands, relatively few Indians actually work their land; most is leased to non-Indians.
Today there are summer camps that teach children about the Comanche way of life and traditions. Many of today’s young Comanche’s horseback ride, they compete in all kinds of sports, especially the ones that have a lot of running. Many do extremely well in track, football, and basketball, and often win awards in school team sports. During the Comanche Nation Fair, competitions range from running to throwing horseshoes.
The Comanche members have kept most of their original traditions. During the year ceremonies are held to celebrate and they perform their original dances while eating traditional dishes. Unfortunately their language has not remained, but many are attempting to learn it but not succeeding. The population of the Comanche tribe is continuously decreeing and many say that they will soon be extinct.

Belief Systems

To the Comanche tribe believed that everything in the world around them was filled with spirits and powers that controlled or affected the lives of the tribe. The sun, the mountains, the beaver, the snake, the eagle, each had its mysterious power, or medicine. To survive and do well, they believed that they must perform a constant routine of ceremonies this was called: making medicine. The ceremonies were practiced to satisfy the spirits, and to ask for their support and help. To survive a life filled with war the Comanche felt a need for some powerful assistance. They received it from the spirits that lived in the nature. The spirits were thought to be everywhere and were almost always identified with some visible object, animal or phenomenon. They were said to come in the sun and earth, in rivers and hills, in thunderstorms and rainbows, and within creatures from the dragonfly to the buffalo. These sacred beings had power to bring success in the hunt and war, protect the young, heal the sick, and assure the welfare of the tribe. These religious rituals that asked the spirits for help took place in many different forms, through dancing, asking animals for help, pipes, and through shaman.
The American Indians most useful, and common practice used to call upon spirits, was within animals. The Comanche’s relied on some animal helpers in the hunt. They would ask a horned toad to tell them where the prey was located. They thought the horned toad would answer their request by running in the direction of the buffalo. They also believed that if a raven circled their camp four times and give of a sound, which sounded like a cry then it would then fly toward the buffalo in order to help its friends get meat.
Within every tribe, certain people were considered to have outstanding skills for dealing with the spirits, and could help connect man to spirits. These were the shaman or medicine men. The shaman might use their powers to predict the future, cast love spells, find lost animals or bring good weather. Some were tribal physicians, and they might even have specialties, such as curing blood diseases, broken bones or battle wounds. The spiritual power of a shaman would come from a dream. Many were clever and had strong, convincing personalities. Their personality helped to convince other people of the importance and reliability of their help. If spirits failed, the shaman was regarded as no good and might not be trusted anymore.

Another way the Comanche would communicate with the spirits was through their widely practiced smoking. The smoke that was breathed out was seen as a breath of prayer, and the pipe itself was seen as a close channel of communication to the spirit world. Different types of pipes were made. The peace pipe could be carried a cross enemy territory and would assure safe passage for the carrier. The war pipe had red feathers signifying blood and was passed around and smoked before a battle was to take place.
Men spent so much time involved in war or hunting that they had little time for religion, but religion had great value. Religion was practiced throughout the whole tribe, to get good luck from the spirits for their wars, hunting and life. They practiced religion in various ways, one of them being dances, these did not take place often. As the men were often away the Comanche had few ceremonies, but they practiced the Beaver Ceremony and the Eagle Dance. Unlike most of the other Plains tribes, they never accepted or practiced the Sun Dance. The dances were practiced to bring the good. The good was hope, happiness and good fighters; the good spirits who came around when they practiced the dances created this joy.


humanities_pic_10.pngRights of passage:
The Comanche lived in small very scattered groups. They had few people in each tribe on average and met up with others rarely. They only met up when there were important ceremonies, or on special occasions. So they had a strong family life because they lived in such small groups.The Comanche traditionally had separate gender roles for males and females in daily life. The men were responsible for hunting to provide meat for the tribe. Their other main duty was fighting and being brave warriors. Women were in charge of setting up camps, cooking, and gathering food. They were also the primary caregivers of children. Some days after they had finished their roles and chores there would be a ceremony and a dance.
These roles of men and women in the daily life were taught to children when they were of young age.

humanities_pic_11.png Children learned from example, by watching and listening to their parents and others in the group. As soon as a girl was old enough to walk, she followed her mother around at the daily tasks of cooking and making clothing. A boy learned from his father, his father's family, and with the bravest warriors in the group. He learned to ride a horse before he could walk. By the time he was four or five he was taught to handle a horse. When he was five or six, he was given a small bow and arrows. He was often taught to ride and shoot by his grandfather since his father and other men were on raids and hunts.
Boys were extremely respected because they would grow up to be warriors and therefore maybe die young in battle. As he came near to manhood, a boy went on his first buffalo hunt. If he made a kill, his father honored him with a feast. Only after he had proven himself on a buffalo hunt was he a young man who could go to war.
When he was ready to become a warrior, at about age fifteen or sixteen, a young man first "made his medicine" and then went on a vision quest, a rites of passage. The vision quest is a turning point in life taken before puberty to find oneself and the intended spiritual and life direction. His father gave him a good horse to ride into battle and another mount for the trail. If he accomplished this he had proved himself as a warrior, a ceremony and a dance was organized to celebrate his achievement.
Girls learned to gather berries, nuts, and roots at a very early age. They carried water and collected wood, and when about twelve years old learned to cook meals, make teepees, sew clothing, and perform other tasks essential to becoming a wife and mother. They were then considered ready to be married.
When a male wished to marry, he gave a gift. The gift was usually one or more horses for the girl's father. He might also say yes to work as a hunter or trader for the family, to persuade the girl's family that he is able to supply for her. He sent a messenger with the horses and other goods, to the farther. If the proposal was turned down, the horses were let free and given back, if accepted; the horses were taken into the father's herd, thereby saying yes. Sometimes a marriage was arranged with an older man of wealth, but the girl could refuse and instead get married with the young man they truly loved.
A very old and sick person was left behind, or abandoned by everyone other than close family. This was not because they didn’t have sympathy, but because they were afraid that evil spirits were in his body. After he died, the Comanche’s straight away buried his body by piling rocks on top. The Comanche’s did not fear death, but death worried them, and they often broke camp after a burial to get away from the place of death. There was little mourning for the old people who died but extreme mourning for a young man who died. There was no formal rite of passage, Comanche were astoundingly individualistic

humanities_pic_14.png Food:
The Comanche were, hunter-gatherers. When they lived in the Mountains during their movement to the Great Plains, men and women shared the responsibility of gathering and providing food. When the Comanche got to the plains, hunting was their main source of getting food. Hunting was thought to be a male activity and it was the way you gained a status.
For meat, the Comanche ate buffalo, elk, black bears, pronghorn, and deer. When game was scarce the men hunted wild mustangs, sometimes eating their own ponies. The women gathered wild fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, roots, and tubers including plums, grapes, juniper berries, persimmons, mulberries, acorns, pecans, wild onions, radishes, and the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The women collected food daily. On some occasions after eating the Comanche’s had a ceremony, and if there was any thing to celebrate they danced, the beaver dance or the eagle dance which the Comanche’s created and practiced. The dances were practiced to say thank you to the spirits.

Comanche people generally had a light meal in the morning and a large evening meal. During the day they ate whenever they were hungry or when it was suitable. Like other Plains Indians the Comanche were very friendly people. They prepared meals whenever a visitor arrived in camp, which led to the belief that the Comanche’s ate at all hours of the day or night. Before eating, the chief took a crumb of food, held it to the sky, and then buried it as a peace offering to the Great Spirit. Many families offered thanks as they sat down to eat their meals in their teepees.

Science and Technology

The Comanche indians were great hunters and they came up with great methods for hunting. The comanche indians moved arround depending on where the buffalo went so they invented houses and storage containers that can be used where ever they need to travel.
The Comanche’s settled around rivers and streams where the land was fertile. The Indians lived in tee-pees because they were easy to set up and take down, and was convenient as they were a nomadic tribe. Tee-pees were made of long wooden poles stuck into the ground and were covered in buffalo hides to create shelter. The outside of the teepee was decorated with paintings of animals, stars, or other objects. There was put a lot of effort into this, because they wanted to show the other members of the tribe their creative skills.

external image 36_Knapped_Point_Arrow_Head.JPG
Shown here is a exceptionally large "bird points". It is 2-1/4" long and very thin. The term "bird point" is a misnomer. It was probably a true "arrowhead" since it has been found in deer and bison remains and these were probably used for both hunting and warfare. The bow and arrow is believed to have been introduced in the Late Prehistoric period (700 AD to historic times.) Prior to the bow and arrow the atlatl spear (or dart) and the lance, both employing larger lanceolate points, were used. Shooting a bird on the wing with a bow and arrow seems unlikely - a turkey or prairie chicken on the ground -coukd be possible.
_bolas.jpgWaco Sinkers - the actual use of these artifacts is not determined. They may have been used as "sinker weights" or as "bola" stones. They are made from quartz material and are chipped and ground to have worked notches in the ends. If they were used as a bola, lengths of leather tied to the notches would be brought together to form a handle. The weapon would be used by hurling it at a running animal or flying bird where the balls would wrap around animal and throw it to the ground.

Art and Architecture

humanities_pic._4.png Comanche art was not popular. Their art was widespread; it varied from body decorations to head dresses. The Comanche tribes made art out of their resources, such as horses, buffalo, fruits, and vegetables. Body decorations were also considered art. The men tattooed their face, arms, and chest with geometric designs, and painted their face and body. Traditionally they used paints made from berry juice and the coloured clays of the Comancheria, the land occupied by Comanche’s. The way they painted their bodies depended on individual preference except for when they went to war. The color they painted themselves for war was black. The women also did body decorations commonly on their face or arms. A popular pattern among the women was to paint the insides of their ears a bright red and paint great orange and red circles on their cheeks.

Using the clay that was found where they lived, they created a small number of sculptures. However not many were made as it was not thought to be a form of art, but mainly because it was in convenient as they were a nomadic culture. It was inconvenient for them to have pottery and sculptures as they constantly moved location, because the herds of animals were moving. They made and used baskets and leather to make containers. They also used animal skins and woven grass mats on the floors of their tee pees.

The Comanche’s thought headdresses to be art. The most common and traditional headdress in the Comanche tribe was the Comanche war bonnet. Other Indian tribes also used this but the Comanche’s was an unusual one. This unusual Comanche war bonnet is made of parrot feathers rather than the more usual eagle feathers. The Comanche’s, like other Native American peoples, allowed only brave, honorable, and respected men to wear the war bonnet.

Another object the Comanche´s painted was their shields that were used in battle. They believed the shield was a great spiritual power. The shield was the most prized item of any warrior, and he decorated it with many paintings and feathers. The spirits of animals drawn on the shield were thought to protect the owner. Art was not a major thing in the Comanche tribes other than body decorations, and decorations on tee-pees.






Government & Society:




"Amazon.com: Comanche Society: Before the Reservation (The West and Southwest Series, 23) (9781585441907): Gerald Betty: Books." Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & More. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.amazon.com/Comanche-Society-Before-Reservation-Southwest/dp/1585441902>.
"Comanche - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Metaphysical and Science Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.crystalinks.com/comanche.html>.
"Comanche - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Metaphysical and Science Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.crystalinks.com/comanche.html>.
"Comanche - Crystalinks." Web.

Comanche Indian. Web.
Comanche Indian. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.comancheindian.com/>.
"The Comanche Indians." Essortment Articles: Free Online Articles on Health, Science, Education & More.. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.essortment.com/all/commancheindian_rmlu.htm>.
"COMANCHE." Oklahoma State University - Library - Home. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/C/CO033.html>.
Comanche. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://afernand1.tripod.com/>.

Belief Systems:

"Animism -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animism>.
"Comanche - Bibliography." Countries and Their Cultures. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.everyculture.com/North-America/Comanche.html>.
"Comanche - Bibliography." Countries and Their Cultures. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.everyculture.com/North-America/Comanche.html>.
"Comanche." Free Website Hosting Angelfire Free Website Templates to Make Your Own Free Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.angelfire.com/realm/shades/nativeamericans/comanche.htm>.

Comanche. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://afernand1.tripod.com/>.
"Comanche-Part One." Whoa..... Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://tolatsga.org/ComancheOne.html>.
"Native American Tribes." San Benito High School District. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://intergate.sbhsd.k12.ca.us/sbhslib/langarts/native/native.htm>.
"Native Americans: Comanche History and Culture." Native American Language Net: Preserving and Promoting Indigenous American Indian Languages. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.native-languages.org/comanche_culture.htm>.
"Oxsan - The Religion of the Comanche - Asylum Forums." Welcome - The Asylum. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.asylumnation.com/asylum/_r/showthread/threadid_48152/index.html>.
"Plains Indians -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plains_Indians#Great_Plains_Religion>.


"Apache Nation - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Metaphysical and Science Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.crystalinks.com/apache.html>.

"Comanche - Bibliography." Countries and Their Cultures. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.everyculture.com/North-America/Comanche.html>.
"Comanche - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Metaphysical and Science Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.crystalinks.com/comanche.html>.
"Comanche Customs and Festivals." Web.
Comanche. Web.
Comanche. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://afernand1.tripod.com/>.
"Comanche Wolves." BadEagle.com For American Indian Patriots. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.badeagle.com/2009/03/04/comanche-wolves/>.
"Did the War Dance Originate with the S?" Comanche Indian. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.comancheindian.com/greene/comanche_FAQ_ans_11.htm>.
"Learn about the History of the Comanche Indians." The Tribal Directory. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.tribaldirectory.net/articles/comanche-indians.html>.
"Native Americans: Comanche History and Culture." Native American Language Net: Preserving and Promoting Indigenous American Indian Languages. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.native-languages.org/comanche_culture.htm>.

Science and Technology:

Art and Architecture:

"Comanche - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Metaphysical and Science Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.crystalinks.com/comanche.html>.

"Comanche -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comanche#Body_decoration>.
Comanche Arts and Crafts. Web.
"Earring -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierced_ears>.
"Earring -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierced_ears>.
"Facts for Kids: Comanche Indians (Comanches)." Orrin's Website. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.bigorrin.org/comanche_kids.htm>.
"Native American Beadwork and Wampum Belts." Native American Language Net: Preserving and Promoting Indigenous American Indian Languages. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.native-languages.org/beadwork.htm>.
"Native American Jewelry." Native American Language Net: Preserving and Promoting Indigenous American Indian Languages. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://www.native-languages.org/jewelry.htm>.
"Tattoo -." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo>.
"Welcome Lipan Apache and Comanche Tribe Group." Web. 21 Mar. 2010. <http://viking.coe.uh.edu/~mroy/edwards/page9.htm>.