Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751-1845

Catalog Record: Comanches: the destruction of a people | HathiTrust Digital Library
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He did this in the hope of his child living a long and productive life.

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Buffalo hair was used to fill saddle pads and was also used in rope and halters. Their original migration took them to the southern Great Plains , into a sweep of territory extending from the Arkansas River to central Texas. Includes index compiled by J. The lining was stretched over four sticks and then filled with water to make a pot for cooking soups and stews. As he approached manhood, a boy went on his first buffalo hunt. Recently, an minute silent film was "rediscovered", titled The Daughter of Dawn. Of a Bernalillo family.

During the public naming ceremony, the medicine man lit his pipe and offered smoke to the heavens, earth, and each of the four directions. He prayed that the child would remain happy and healthy.

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He then lifted the child to symbolize its growing up and announced the child's name four times. He held the child a little higher each time he said the name. It was believed that the child's name foretold its future; even a weak or sick child could grow up to be a great warrior, hunter, and raider if given a name suggesting courage and strength. Girls were usually named after one of their father's relatives, but the name was selected by the mother. As children grew up they also acquired nicknames at different points in their lives, to express some aspect of their lives.

The Comanche looked on their children as their most precious gift. Children were rarely punished. Occasionally, old people donned sheets and frightened disobedient boys and girls. Children were also told about Big Maneater Owl Pia Mupitsi , who lived in a cave on the south side of the Wichita Mountains and ate bad children at night. Children learned from example, by observing and listening to their parents and others in the band. As soon as she was old enough to walk, a girl followed her mother about the camp and played at the daily tasks of cooking and making clothing.

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She was also very close to her mother's sisters, who were called not aunt but pia , meaning mother. She was given a little deerskin doll, which she took with her everywhere. She learned to make all the clothing for the doll. A boy identified not only with his father but with his father's family, as well as with the bravest warriors in the band. He learned to ride a horse before he could walk. By the time he was four or five, he was expected to be able to skillfully handle a horse. When he was five or six, he was given a small bow and arrows.

Often, a boy was taught to ride and shoot by his grandfather, since his father and other warriors were on raids and hunts. His grandfather also taught him about his own boyhood and the history and legends of the Comanche. As the boy grew older, he joined the other boys to hunt birds. He eventually ranged farther from camp looking for better game to kill.

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Encouraged to be skillful hunters, boys learned the signs of the prairie as they learned to patiently and quietly stalk game. They became more self-reliant, yet, by playing together as a group, also formed the strong bonds and cooperative spirit that they would need when they hunted and raided. Boys were highly respected because they would become warriors and might die young in battle.

Catalog #286: December, 2018

As he approached 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 a young man allowed to go to war. When he was ready to become a warrior, at about age fifteen or sixteen, a young man first "made his medicine" by going on a vision quest a rite of passage.

Following this quest, his father gave the young man a good horse to ride into battle and another mount for the trail.

Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751-1845

If he had proved himself as a warrior, a Give Away Dance might be held in his honor. As drummers faced east, the honored boy and other young men danced. His parents, along with his other relatives and the people in the band, threw presents at his feet — especially blankets and horses symbolized by sticks.

Anyone might snatch one of the gifts for themselves, although those with many possessions refrained; they did not want to appear greedy. People often gave away all their belongings during these dances, providing for others in the band, but leaving themselves with nothing. Girls learned to gather healthy berries, nuts, and roots. They carried water and collected wood, and when about twelve years old learned to cook meals, make tipis, sew clothing, prepare hides, and perform other tasks essential to becoming a wife and mother.

They were then considered ready to be married. During the 19th century, the traditional Comanche burial custom was to wrap the deceased's body in a blanket and place it on a horse, behind a rider, who would then ride in search of an appropriate burial place, such as a secure cave. After entombment, the rider covered the body with stones and returned to camp, where the mourners burned all the deceased's possessions.

The primary mourner slashed his arms to express his grief. The Quahada band followed this custom longer than other bands and buried their relatives in the Wichita Mountains. Christian missionaries persuaded Comanche people to bury their dead in coffins in graveyards, [50] which is the practice today. When they lived with the Shoshone, the Comanche mainly used dog-drawn travois for transportation.

Later, they acquired horses from other tribes, such as the Pueblo, and from the Spaniards. Since horses are faster, easier to control and able to carry more, this helped with their hunting and warfare and made moving camp easier. Larger dwellings were made due to the ability to pull and carry more belongings. Being herbivores, horses were also easier to feed than dogs, since meat was a valuable resource. A Comanche man's wealth was measured by the size of his horse herd. Horses were prime targets to steal during raids; often raids were conducted specifically to capture horses. Often horse herds numbering in the hundreds were stolen by Comanche during raids against other Indian nations, Spanish, Mexicans, and later from the ranches of Texans.

Horses were used for warfare with the Comanche being considered to be among the finest light cavalry and mounted warriors in history. The Comanche sheathed their tipis with a covering made of buffalo hides sewn together. To prepare the buffalo hides, women first spread them on the ground, then scraped away the fat and flesh with blades made from bones or antlers, and left them in the sun.

When the hides were dry, they scraped off the thick hair, and then soaked them in water. After several days, they vigorously rubbed the hides in a mixture of animal fat, brains, and liver to soften the hides.

The hides were made even more supple by further rinsing and working back and forth over a rawhide thong. Finally, they were smoked over a fire, which gave the hides a light tan color. To finish the tipi covering, women laid the tanned hides side by side and stitched them together. As many as 22 hides could be used, but 14 was the average.

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When finished, the hide covering was tied to a pole and raised, wrapped around the cone-shaped frame, and pinned together with pencil-sized wooden skewers. Two wing-shaped flaps at the top of the tipi were turned back to make an opening, which could be adjusted to keep out the moisture and held pockets of insulating air. With a fire pit in the center of the earthen floor, the tipis stayed warm in the winter. In the summer, the bottom edges of the tipis could be rolled up to let cool breezes in. Cooking was done outside during the hot weather.

Comanche people

Tipis were very practical homes for itinerant people. Working together, women could quickly set them up or take them down. An entire Comanche band could be packed and chasing a buffalo herd within about 20 minutes. The Comanche women were the ones who did the most work with food processing and preparation. The Comanche were initially hunter-gatherers. When they lived in the Rocky Mountains , during their migration to the Great Plains, both men and women shared the responsibility of gathering and providing food.

When the Comanche reached the plains, hunting came to predominate.