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Quanah Parker & The Comanche Nation
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From Youth to Leadership
Quanah Parker's mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, was a member of the large Parker frontier family that settled in east Texas in the 1830s. She was captured in 1836 by Comanches during the raid of Fort Parker near present-day Groesbeck, Texas. She was given the Indian name Nadua ("Someone Found"), and adopted into the Nocona band of Comanches. Cynthia Ann eventually married the Comanche warrior Puhtocnocony (called Peta Nocona by the whites). Quanah was her firstborn son. She also had another son, Pecos ("Peanut") and a daughter, Topsana ("Prairie Flower)" In 1860, Cynthia Ann Parker was recaptured in the battle of Pease River by Texas Rangers under Lawrence Sullivan Ross. Peta Nocona, Quanah, and most of the other men were out hunting when Ross' men attacked. Returning to find the aftermath, they found it difficult to get any information as only a few people were still alive. Meanwhile, Cynthia Ann was reunited with her white family, but years with the Comanches had made her a different person. She frequently demanded to return to her husband, but was never permitted to do so. After Topsana died of an illness, Cynthia Ann starved herself to death.
Soon after the Pease River battle, Peta Nocona was said to be a broken, bitter man. He was later wounded on a raid with Apaches. Already in ill-health, with an older war wound troubling him, he soon died. Before his death, he told Quanah of his mother's capture from the whites. With this revelation came taunts from other tribesmen that Quanah was a half-breed. With Nocona's death, his band split. Quanah joined the Destanyuka band, where Chief Wild Horse took him under his wing. Though he grew to considerable standing as a warrior, he never felt comfortable with the Destanyuka. He left and formed the Quahadi ("Antelope Eaters") band with warriors from another tribe. The Quahadis eventually grew in number, becoming the largest of the Comanche bands, and also the most notorious. Quanah Parker became a leader of the Quahadi, and led them successfully for a number of years.
The Battle of Adobe Walls
In October, 1867, Quanah was among the Comanche chiefs at Medicine Lodge. Though he did not give a speech – his place was as an observer – he did make a statement about not signing the Medicine Lodge Treaty. His band remained free while other Comanches signed.
In the early 1870s, the plains Indians were losing the battle for their land. Following the capture of the Kiowa chiefs Satank, Adoeet (Big Tree), and Satanta the Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne tribes joined forces in several battles. Colonel Ranald Mackenzie was sent to eradicate all remaining Indians who had not settled on reservations.
In 1874, while in the Texas panhandle, a Comanche prophet named Isatai summoned the tribes to Adobe Walls, where several buffalo hunters were active. With Kiowa Chief Big Bow, Quanah was in charge of one group of warriors. The battle was a victory, but also his closest brush with death; he was shot twice.
With their food source depleted, and under constant pressure from the army, the Quahadi Comanches finally surrendered and in 1875 moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. His home in Cache, Oklahoma was called the Star House. Parker's was the last tribe of the Staked Plains or Llano Estacado to come to the reservation. Quanah was named chief over all the Comanches on the reservation, and proved to be a forceful, resourceful and able leader. Through wise investments, he became perhaps the wealthiest American Indian of his day in the United States. Quanah embraced much of white culture, and was well respected by the whites. He went on hunting trips with President Theodore Roosevelt. Nevertheless, he rejected both monogamy and traditional Protestant Christianity in favor of the Native American Church Movement. He had five wives and twenty five children and founded the Native American Church. One of his sons, White Parker, became a Methodist minister. Author Bill Neeley writes:
"Not only did Quanah pass within the span of a single lifetime from a Stone Age warrior to a statesman in the age of the Industrial Revolution, but he accepted the challenge and responsibility of leading the whole Comanche tribe on the difficult road toward their new existence."
Quanah died on February 23, 1911. He is buried at the Fort Sill Cemetery, beside his mother and sister. The inscription on his tombstone reads:Resting Here Until Day Breaks And Shadows Fall and Darkness Disappears is Quanah Parker Last Chief of the Comanches Born 1852 Died Feb. 23, 1911.
The 'Comanche' are a Native American ethnic group whose range (the Comancheria) consisted of present-day Eastern New Mexico, Southern Colorado, Southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of Northern and Southern Texas. There may once have been as many as 20,000 Comanches. Today, the Comanche Nation consists of approximately 10,000 members, about half of whom live in Oklahoma (centered at Lawton), and the remainder are concentrated in Texas, California, and New Mexico. The Comanche speak an Uto-Aztecan language, sometimes classified as a Shoshone dialect.
Fort Sill Post Cemetery
Founder of The Native American Church Movement
Quanah Parker is credited as the founder of the Native American Church Movement. Parker adopted the peyote religion after reportedly seeing a vision of Jesus Christ while suffering from a near fatal wound following a battle with Federal Troops. Peyote is reported to contain hordenine and tyramine, phenylethylamine alkaloids which act as potent natural antibiotics when taken in a combined form. Parker was given peyote by a Ute medicine man to cure the infections of his wounds. During the peyote experience, Parker claimed he heard the voice of Jesus Christ who then appeared to him, and told him in order to atone for his many killings and misdeeds, he must forsake a life of violence and conflict and take the peyote religion to the Indian Peoples. Parker's words and teachings comprise the core of the Native American Church Doctrine and the "Peyote Road."
Parker taught that the sacred peyote medicine was the sacrament given to the Indian Peoples by the Lord Jesus Christ, and was to be used with water when taking communion in a traditional Native American Church medicine ceremony. Parker created the "half-moon" style of the peyote ceremony. The "cross" ceremony later evolved in Oklahoma due to Kiowa influences introduced by John Wilson, a Kiowa Indian who traveled extensively with Parker during the early days of the Native American Church movement. The Native American Church was the first truly "American" religion based on Christianity outside of the Latter Day Saints.
Parker's most famous teaching regarding the Spirituality of the Native American Church:The White Man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his Tipi and talks with Jesus.
The modern reservation era in Native American History began with the universal adoption of the Native American Church and Christianity by virtually every Native American Tribe and Culture within North American and Canada as a result of Parker and Wilson's efforts. The Peyote religion and the Native American Church, however, was never the traditional religious practice of North American Indian Cultures. This religion was created by Parker's vision of Christ and was driven by influences from Mexico and other Southern Tribes who have used peyote since ancient times. Under Parker's leadership, peyote became an important item of trade, and this, combined with his Church movement and political and financial contacts, garnered Parker enormous wealth during his lifetime.
Quanah's grandfather was the Chief Iron Jacket, famous among the Comanches as a powerful chief who wore a Spanish coat of mail and was said to have the power to blow bullets away with his breath.
~IRON JACKET (?-1858). Iron Jacket (Po-hebitsquash, Pro-he-bits-quash-a, Po-bish-e-quasho) was a Comanche chieftain and medicine man to whom the Indians attributed the power to blow approaching missiles aside with his breath. His name probably resulted from his practice of wearing a Spanish-type coat of mail into battle. On May 12, 1858, the jacket failed to protect him, and he was killed on the bank of the South Canadian River in a battle with a combined force of Texas Rangers and Brazos Reservation Indians led by John S. Ford and Shapley P. Ross.~
The Battle of Little Robe Creek: The years 1858 and 1859 were bloody years on the Texas frontier due to Indian raids. The newly elected governor, Hardin R. Runnels, was determined to protect the Texas citizens living on the frontier from these attacks. The Comanches of Indian Territory were responsible for much of the depredations and had become so troublesome that the Texas legislature passed a law for the defense and protection of the settlers living on the Texas frontier.
On January 28,1858, Ranger John S. Ford, considered by state authorities the best man to command an expedition into Indian Territory, took command of all state forces with the title of Senior Captain. Authorized to call an additional one hundred men and instructed to establish headquarters at some suitable point on the frontier, Ford left Austin in February for the frontier.
Governor Runnels gave direct orders to Ford, "I impress upon you the necessity of action and energy. Follow any trail and all trails of hostile or suspected hostile Indians you may discover and if possible, overtake and chastise them if unfriendly." On March 19, 1858, Captain Ford went to the Brazos Reservation, near Present day Fort Worth where he planned to induce reservation Indians into his force. An Agent, Captain L. S. Ross, called the chief to council where he stirred their war spirit against their traditional enemies, the Comanches. Appoximately 100 warriors volunteered and spies were sent to locate Comanche camps north of the Red River. The allied Indians were under the command of Shapely P. Ross, son of the agent, and Chief Placido. A few of the tribes that were represented in this force leaving the reservation on April 20, were Caddoes, Wacos, Anadarkos, Tonkawas and a few others.
A cavalcade consisting of 102 men, two wagons, an ambulance, and 15 pack-mules left Camp Runnels, near the Brazos Reservation, on April 22. The force traveled north until they met the 113 braves from the reservation at a location known as Cottonwood Springs. Ford's subordinates on this expedition besides Ross were W.A.Pitts, J.H. Tankersly, and W.G. Preston. "Old Rip", as he was known to his men, recognized the eagerness in his men to fight to compensate for the huge amounts of property damage that the Comanches were causing on the frontier. The reservation Indians needed no encouragement to join the Rangers in the fight because they already hated the Comaches.
Traveling north from Cottonwood Springs, Captain Ford's force crossed the Red River on April 29 and traveled up the north bank making stops and sending out spies along the way hoping to locate the hostile camps. After traveling up the river more than a week without finding any signs of enemy forces, the expedition headed north for the Washita River on May 7. The Rangers followed the 98th parallel until they reached a branch of the Washita the following day.
The force had been marching for 21 days when they first encountered signs of Comanches in the area. Spies sent out by Captain Ford, found a crippled buffalo and killed it on May 10. Two Comanche arrowheads were extracted from the beast. The following day Captain Ford and a few of his men stood in the road from Fort Smith to Santa Fe just north of the Rio Negro or False Washita, and watched a few Comanches chasing buffalos in the valleys to the north. The direction that the meat ladden Comanche ponies took indicated the way to the camp. The Texas force was now very deep into Comanche territory and in order to keep from being discovered, Ford left the wagons and baggage behind, plus a few men to guard them. Late in the day, a Keeche Indian tracker, found the location of a small Comanche camp. The attack had to be postponed because of approaching darkness.
The Comanches in this small camp of five lodges were completely unaware of the approaching danger. Chief Placido and his braves completely destroyed the camp before dawn on May 12. A few women and children were taken captives. Preferring death to capture, not one Comanche warrior was taken alive, nor did even one Comanche escape to warn other camps across the South Canadian River.
After sunrise, a much larger camp was sighted on the north side of the Canadian River, near the mouth of Little Robe Creek. This Village contained 70 lodges. Soon after they had spotted the camp, a lone Comanche was sighted riding south toward the stricken camp completely unaware of its fate. The Rangers tried to overtake him, but he turned and fled back across the river towards the main camp. He led his pursuers to a safe crossing on the almost impassable river.
The rider was able to give warning just before the rangers charged through the camp, the momentum of which carried the Rangers through the village and beyond. As Captain Ford was regrouping the Rangers for another charge, the Comanches trying to give the women and children time to escape, formed a line between the village and Rangers. Suddenly a lone rider appeared from the Comanche line. He rode an iron-gray colored horse and was carrying a lance with a white flag attached. The rider wore the horned headdress and a buffalo robe of the Koteoteka, or Buffalo-eater Comanche. This Comanche was the chief Pohebits Quasho or Iron Jacket, a title he obtained because of the Spanish coat of mail he wore.
As Iron Jacket bore down on the Rangers, he was followed by a few of his warriors. The white flag he carried was probably a trick because the Comanches had learned to use the flag of truce to get close to the whites and attack them easily. If that was the purpose it did not work this time, and the Rangers opened fire. The chief passed through this heavy fire without a scratch. Iron Jacket believed that because of magic breath he possessed, he could make bullets and arrows directed at him fall harmlessly at his feet. He shot a few arrows at the Rangers as he rode up and down the Ranger line. As the chief was turning his horse, he suddenly fell to the ground. His fatal mistake was leaning away from the gunfire from the Ranger line allowing a bullet, which was said to have been fired from the gun of Jim Pock- mark, an Anadarko chief in the Ranger force, to slip under one of the flaps of armor, killing the chief.
When Iron Jacket was killed, the comanche warriors fled the battle site over the hills and through the ravines west of the village. The fight now became a series of small running battles that covered an area of six miles in length and more than three in width. These small engagements lasted until around noon. While this series of encounters continued, another chief, Peta Nocona, whose eldest son, Quanah Parker would later become famous, was coming through the hills from the north. Nocona and his warriors had been hunting buffalo when he heard the sound of gunfire from the village and he began to rush back to give aid.
About one o'clock in the afternoon Shapely P. Ross returned to the village. He was the last to come in and noticed that the Rangers were forming a battle line and when he inquired why, Captain Ford, replied, "Look at the hills there and you will see." Peta Nocona and his warriors had arrived. The Rangers estimated that there were 500 warriors in the hills surrounding the village. They probably over-estimated the number since Peta Nocona seldom had as many as a hundred warriors with him, and it was very easy to over-estimate the number of figures spread out and moving all of the time on horseback.
... Casualities in the Battle of Little Robe Creek were one sided. The Rangers only had two men killed and three men wounded. In the battles at the two camps 69 Comanches were killed, most of them women and children. In battles fought with Peta Nocona's warriors seven more Comanches were killed. A party of six Comanches killed Private Robert Nickel, of Lieutenant Nelson's detachment, who became separated from the rest of the detachment in the pursuit of the enemy. The most determined resistance during the afternoon battle was in a timbered ravine. Here one Tonkawa was killed, after he had used up all of his arrows, and George W. Pascal was wounded. The Rangers captured over 300 horses and took 18 prisoners, mostly women and children.
The Battle of Little Robe Creek had like any other battle, its morbid details. Captian Ford, accused of killing women and children excused himself by saying it was hard to distinguish "warriors from squaws," but jokes he made indicated he did not care about the age or sex of his victims. The Reservation Indians with the Rangers celebrated the victory by hanging the bloody hands and feet of their Comanche victims on their ponies as trophies. ...
Source: http://nativenewsonline.org/history/hist0512.html Writtten by: Jerry Denson
Quanah's first wife was Weakeah, daughter of Comanche chief Yellow Bear. Originally, she was espoused to another warrior. Quanah and Weakeah eloped, and took several other warriors with them. It was from this small group that the large Quahadi band would form. Yellow Bear pursued the band and eventually Quanah made peace with him, and the two bands united, forming the largest force of Comanche Indians.
Over the years, Quanah accumulated four more wives. One of his fours wives was named Nahnie Littlehorse.He had twenty-five children. Many north Texans and south Oklahomans claim descent from Quanah. It had been said that more Comanches are related to Quanah than any other chief. One grandson became Comanche chairman, the modern "Chief" of the tribe.
After moving to the reservation, Quanah first got in touch with his white relatives. He stayed for a few weeks with them, where he studied English and western culture, and learned white farming techniques.
Cynthia Ann Parker
Cynthia Ann Parker, or Naduah (also sometimes spelled "Nadua" and "Nauta"), was an Anglo-Texas woman of Scots-Irish descent who suffered being kidnapped twice in her lifetime - once from her natural family at the age of nine by a Native American raiding party, and once from her Indian family at the age of 34 by Texas Rangers. Cynthia Ann was a member of the large Parker frontier family that settled in east Texas in the 1830s. She was captured in 1836 by Comanches during the raid of Fort Parker near present-day Groesbeck, Texas.
In December 1860, Cynthia Ann and her daughter were among a Native American party captured at the Battle of Pease River by Texas Rangers led by "Sul" Ross. After fierce fighting, the Comanche realized they were losing and fled. Ross and several of his men pursued the chief who had been giving orders. The chief was fleeing alongside another rider. As Ross and his men neared, the other rider held a child over her head; the men did not shoot, but instead surrounded and stopped her. Ross continued to follow the chief, eventually shooting him three times. Although the chief fell from his horse, he was still alive, and refused to surrender. Ross's cook, Antonio Martinez, who had been taken captive in Mexico after Nocona killed his family, identified the captured chief as Nocona. With Ross's permission, Martinez fired the shot that took Nocona's life.
When Ross arrived back at the campground, he discovered that the woman his men had captured had blue eyes. He assured her that no young boys had been killed in the battle, so her sons, Quanah and Pecos were safe. The woman could not speak English, and did not know her name or where she came from. After much questioning, she remembered a few details of her capture as a child. The details matched what Ross knew of the Fort Parker Massacre of 1836.
Though some of the Rangers urged Ross to set her free to return to the Comanches, he considered it best to try to return her to her white family. Ross knew many settlers had lost children to the Indians, and many of them might feel this was their child or relative. Ross sent the woman to Camp Cooper and sent a message to Colonel Isaac Parker, the uncle of a young girl kidnapped in the raid. When Parker mentioned that his niece's name was Cynthia Ann Parker, the woman slapped her chest and said "Me Cincee Ann." Isaac Parker took her to his home near Birdville. In 1861, the Texas legislature granted her a league (about 4,400 acres) of land, a pension of $100 per year for the next five years, and made her cousins, Isaac Duke Parker and Benjamin F. Parker, her legal guardians.
Cynthia Ann never adapted to her new life among the whites, and attempted to escape on several occasions. Her brother, Silas Jr., was appointed her guardian in 1862, and took her to his home in Van Zandt County. When Silas was mustered into the Confederate Army, Cynthia Ann went to live with her sister, Orlena. According to some accounts, the Parker family was negotiating to return her to west Texas and her adopted people when the American Civil War broke out. The chief cause of Cynthia Ann's unhappiness was that she missed her sons and never knew what had happened to them. In 1863, her daughter, Prairie Flower, caught influenza and died from pneumonia.
In her grief, Cynthia Ann stopped eating. She became sick and died in 1870. She was buried in Fosterville Cemetery in Anderson County near Frankston. Her son, Quanah, moved her body in 1910 to the Post Oak Cemetery near Cache, Oklahoma. He was buried there in 1911. She and her son were moved in 1957 to the Fort Sill military cemetery in Oklahoma. Thanks to her son, Cynthia Ann Parker was finally reunited with her Comanche family.
~Cynthia Ann Parker was born to Lucy Duty Parker and Silas M. Parker in Crawford County, Illinois. There is considerable dispute about her age, as according to the 1870 census of Anderson County, Texas, she would have been born between June 2, 1824, and May 31, 1825.~
Fort Sill Post Cemetery
(b. ? - d. 1864?) was a Native American chief who led the Noconi Comanches in Texas from the 1830s to 1860. His band Noconis, or Wanderers, were named after him. Some sources indicate that his name means He who travels alone and returns. Nocona, Texas is named after the Noconi leader.
Rumored to be a physically gigantic man, he was a feared figure on the Texas border for three decades until a company of Texas Rangers and Militia led by Sul Ross ambushed and massacred his band at the Battle of Pease River on December 18, 1860.
Despite Ross's claim that Nocona was killed at Pease River, his son insisted he was not present, and died several years later. This claim is supported by Texas historian John Henry Brown. Brown had already disputed the identity of the chief killed at Mule Creek, before Quanah came onto the reservation, stating he was told the name of the man killed at Pease River was Mo-he-ew, not Peta Nocona. Quanah then wrote an affidavit disputing his father's death: "….while I was too young to remember the chief it is likely that Brown was correct…."
While Peta Nocona's death is a matter of dispute, the destruction of his band, the Noconis is not disputed. In early 186o Peta Nacona led the Comanche's in a raid through Parker County, Texas, which ironically was named in honor of his wife's family. After the raid he returned with his band to what he believed was a safe retreat under the sandstone bluffs of Pease River near where Mule Creek flowed into the stream. The site was long a favorite of the Comanche, providing both cover from the fierce blue northers that hit the plains, and ample forage for their ponies, with buffalo hunting easy from the nearby herds. But the raids of the Comanche had brought pressure in Austin to protect the settlers, and Texas Governor Sam Houston had commissioned Ranger Captain Lawrence Sullivan Ross to organize a company of 40 Rangers and 20 militia to put a stop to the Indian raids. The company of 60 was based at Fort Belknap, in Parker County.
Ross quickly ascertained that he simply did not have sufficient men to guard the frontier,and instead determined that the best way to protect the settlers was to take the offensive to the Indians. To this end, he began to scout the area for sign of Indian camps, determined to take the fight to them at the earliest opportunity. After Peta Nocona's raid into Parker County Ross and his fighters started tracking the Nokonis, who were considered the hardiest fighters among the Comanche, who were in turn considered the fiercest of the Plains Indians. Ironically, modern research has revealed that Peta Nocona did not intend to stay at Pease River, and was preparing to move on when the attack came on his camp that December day. It was daybreak on December 18, 1860, when Ranger Captain Ross himself scouted out the camp on the Pease River as his scouts reported the presence of a fairly large hunting party and camp on the banks of the Pease. With an oncoming blue norther blotting out sign, Ross was able to move up to literally spy out the location of the Noconas on the Mule Creek head bank as it came into the Pease River.
Ross sent a detachment of 20 men out of his force of 60 to position themselves behind a chain of sand hills to cut off retreat to the northwest, while with 40 men, Ross himself led the charge down into the Indian camp. The result was that the band was taken completely by surprise, and were massacred, either shot down where they stood, or were killed by the 20 men to the north as they attempted to flee. Though excuses were made for doing so, men, women, and children were shot indiscriminately. Indeed, Sul Ross himself wrote, quoted in Indian Depredations, by J.W. Wilbarger, that they fired at everyone present, saying "The attack was so sudden that a considerable number were killed before they could prepare for defense. They fled precipitately right into the presence of the sergeant and his men. Here they met with a warm reception, and finding themselves completely encompassed, every one fled his own way, and was hotly pursued and hard pressed."
There are two distinct and very different stories about Peta Nocona’s death. The first is that he died trying to escape with his wife and infant daughter, which is the generally believed story, and the one reported by Sul Ross officially. According to this story, seeing that the camp was hopelessly overrun, Chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker fled to the east up a creek bed. Reportedly, mounted behind Nocona was a 15-year old Mexican girl, while Cynthia Ann Parker carried her two year old child, Topasannah (“Prairie Flower”). Captain Ross and his lieutenant, Tom Killiheir, pursued the man they believed to be the legendary Peta Nocona. But Quanah Parker, the chief's oldest son, once reportedly said in Dallas to Sul Ross, "No kill my father; he not there. I want to get it straight here in Texas history. After that, two year, three year maybe, my father sick. I see him die." Certainly Quanah Parker said on numerous occasions to both fried and foe that his father had survived the massacre of his Band, and died 3-4 years later of complications from old war wounds suffered against the Apaches. In this story, strongly supported by the Comanche people, Peta Nocona was out hunting with his oldest son and a few others when the attack occurred.
Strongly supporting Quanah Parker's story that his father did not die at Pease River is the fact that Quanah was introduced into the Comanche Destanyuka band, where Chief Wild Horse took him under his wing, only after his father's death, several years after Pease River. Until Nocona died, he took care of his son. Indeed, it was not until Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped back into white society that Quanah knew his mother was white, and that he was of mixed blood. His father had not told him of his white ancestery until his mother was taken from them. According to Quanah Parker and his warriors Peta Nocona was a broken and bitter man after Pease River. He was never the same after his wife was taken from him, and died somewhere around 1863-4 of complications of old war wounds fighting the Apaches, and from sorrow at the loss of his wife and infant daughter.
It must be also noted that a rare book from that period supports Quanah's claim that his father did not die at Pease River. In a book decades out of print, written in 1890, Carbine & Lance, The Story of Old Fort Sill, by Colonel W.S. Nye, the Colonel buttresses Quanah's version of the story. Ney says: "Accounts vary as to what happened. Captain Ross, who was acclaimed a hero for the deed, claimed and probably honestly believed that he had caught and killed Peta Nacona. But in the melee he pursued and shot Nawkohnee's Mexican slave, who was trying to save the fleeing Comanche women." Nye claimed that he encountered men who saw Nocona alive several years after Pease River, when he was ill with an infected war wound. This version strongly supports Quanah's claim that his father survived Pease River, and died 3-4 years later, technically of an infected wound, but more, Quanah said, from a broken heart at losing his family. Nye said what Quanah maintained, that Nocona and Parker had been an exceptionally happy couple, and the forced separation killed them both, Parker starved herself to death, and Nocona withered away.
Lawrence Sullivan Ross
Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross
(September 27, 1838 – January 3, 1898) was the 19th Governor of Texas a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War, and a president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.
His family settled in the Republic of Texas within a year of his birth, and much of his childhood was spent on the frontier. His family later founded the town of Waco. As a teenager, Ross attended Baylor University and Florence Wesleyan University. On one of his summer breaks he suffered severe injuries while fighting renegade Comanches. After graduation Ross became a Texas Ranger, and in 1860 led troops in the Battle of Pease River, where he rescued Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been captured by the Comanches as a child.
When Texas joined the Confederacy, Ross joined the Confederate States Army. He participated in 135 battles and skirmishes and became one of the youngest Confederate generals. Following the Civil War, Ross briefly served as sheriff of McLennan County before resigning to participate in the 1875 Texas Constitutional Convention. With the exception of a two-year term as a state senator, Ross spent the next decade focused on his farm and ranch concerns. In 1887, he became the 19th governor of Texas. During his two terms, he oversaw the dedication of the new Texas State Capitol resolved the Jaybird-Woodpecker War, and became the only Texas governor to call a special session to deal with a treasury surplus.
Despite his popularity, he refused to run for a third term as governor. Days after leaving office, Ross became president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). He is credited with saving the school from closing, and his tenure saw a large expansion in college facilities and the birth of many school traditions. After his death, the Texas legislature created Sul Ross State University in his honor.
Ranald S. Mackenzie
Ranald Slidell Mackenzie
(July 27, 1840 – January 19, 1889) was called the most promising young officer in the entire Union army. He was famous for his service in the American Civil War and the following Indian Wars.
Mackenzie was born in Westchester Count , New York, the nephew of Confederate States of America diplomat John Slidell and the brother of Lt. Commander Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, U.S. Navy. He graduated from West Point at the head of his class in 1862 and immediately joined the Union forces already fighting in the Civil War.
Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, Mackenzie served in the battles of Second Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, and through the Overland Campaign in 1864.
He was appointed colonel of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, which served as infantry during the assaults on Petersburg, where he was wounded. This incident, in which he lost two fingers, was the probable cause for his nickname, "Bad Hand". He moved with the VI Corps when it opposed Early's Washington Raid. He was given command of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, VI Corps and was again wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Upon his recovery, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and assumed command of the Cavalry Division in the Army of the James, which he led at the battles of Five Forks and Appomattox Courthouse. He was appointed brevet major general of volunteers in 1865 for services in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Mackenzie was known for his harsh discipline and was not well liked by troops serving under him, who called him the "Perpetual Punisher". However, he was respected by his peers and superiors for his skill and abilities, prompting General Ulysses S. Grant to refer to him as the "most promising young officer" in the entire Union army.
Service in the Indian wars
After the Civil War, Mackenzie stayed in the regular army and reverted to his permanent rank of captain in the Army Corps of Engineers. He then served in the West during the Indian Wars and was appointed colonel in the regular army in 1867 in the 41st U.S. Infantry (later 24th U.S. Infantry - one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments) and fought against the Apache Indians in the Southwest. On February 25, 1871, he commanded the 4th U.S. Cavalry. He led the regiment at the Battle of the North Fork in the Llano Estacado of west Texas , where he perfected a strategy for that unique terrain for defeating Indians who were resisting the government policy of moving them to reservations.
He fought in the Red River War, routing a combined Indian force at the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon from his headquarters at Fort Concho, Texas. In 1876, he defeated the Cheyenne in the Dull Knife Fight which helped bring about the end of the Black Hills War. This led to his appointment as commander of the District of New Mexico in 1881. In 1882, he was appointed brigadier general and assigned to the Department of Texas (October 30, 1883). He began to demonstrate odd behavior which was attributed to a fall from a wagon at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in which he injured his head. Showing signs of mental instability, he was retired from the Army on March 24, 1884..
Mackenzie died in New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, in his sister's home and is buried in West Point National Cemetery
Quanah Parker with two Wives
Comanche Family: Quanah Parker and two wives. Topay is on the left, and Chonie is on the right. Photo circa 1890: Indian Territory.
Although praised by many in his tribe as a preserver of their culture, Quanah had critics within the Comanche community. Many claimed that he "sold out to the white man" with his rancher persona in later life, dressing and living in a more American than Comanche style. Quanah did adopt more white ways than most other Comanche of his time, but he always wore his hair long and in braids. He also refused to follow white American marriage customs, which would have required him to cast aside four of his five wives.
Another point of controversy among the Comanche was that Quanah was never elected chief of the entire tribe by the people themselves. Traditionally, the Comanche had no single chief. The various bands of the Comanche had their own chiefs, with no single figure standing for the entire people. But that, as many other things, changed with the reservation times...
Quanah Parker was born sometime between 1845 and 1849 in the Wichita mountain region of what is now Oklahoma, and died in 1911 in Oklahoma. In 1957, both he and his mother were re-interred at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Quanah means "fragrant" in the Comanche language. Most Comanche warriors would take different names in manhood. It is believed Quanah never changed because that was the name his mother had known him by before her recapture.
For many years, it was circulated among whites that Peta Nocona was killed at the Battle of Mule Creek (Mule Creek is a tributary of the Pease River), which occurred much earlier than his actual death. Quanah later corrected this error, explaining that a sub-chief of the Noconi, Nobah, was the one killed.
Quanah's spacious home outside of Cache, Oklahoma, called the Star House, was moved to Eagle Park in Cache. The park has since closed down, but the house remains. Though poorly taken care of, many items including some furniture, are still in the house. In 2006, vandals painted racial slurs on the house. This graffiti has since been removed.
Local legend has it that at midnight Quanah's ghosts rides across Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Parker Hall, a 1962 residence hall at Oklahoma State University, is named after Quanah Parker. It housed undergraduate men from 1962 to 1990. It is now co-ed, housing honors students until 2003, then non-honors students thereafter.
The Comanche Nation
Though there are various accounts of the origin of the name Comanche, it is generally agreed to have come by way of Spanish from the old Ute term *[k?.?man.?i] (modern Southern Ute [k?.?ma?.?i?]), "enemy, foreigner, Comanche". Early French and American explorers refer to a plains tribe on the Arkansas River as Padouca (or Paducah), a Siouan name, which has incorrectly been assumed to refer to the Comanche; however, they were not present in that area until later. The Comanches' own preferred name is Numunuu, meaning "human being" or "the People".
The Comanches emerged as a distinct group shortly before 1700, when they broke off from the Shoshone people living along the upper Platte River in Wyoming. This coincided with their acquisition of the horse, which allowed them greater mobility in their search for better hunting grounds. Their original migration took them to southern plains, from where they moved southward into a sweep of territory extending from the Arkansas River to central Texas. During that time, their population increased dramatically due to the abundance of buffalo, an influx of Shoshone migrants, and the adoption of significant numbers of women and children taken captive from rival groups. Nevertheless, 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 may have fought among themselves just as often as they cooperated.
The horse was a key element in the emergence of a distinctive Comanche culture, and there have been suggestions that it was the search for additional sources of horses among the settlers of New Spain to the south (rather than the search for new herds of buffalo) that first led the Comanches to break off from the Shoshone. The Comanches may have been the first group of Plains natives to fully incorporate the horse into their culture, and to have introduced the animal to the other Plains peoples.
By the mid-19th century, they were supplying horses to French and American traders and settlers, and later to migrants passing through their territory on their way to the Californian Gold Rush. Many of these horses had been stolen, and the Comanches earned a reputation as formidable horse- and later cattle-thieves. Their victims included Spanish and American settlers, as well as the other Plains tribes, often leading to war.
They were formidable opponents who developed strategies for fighting on horseback with traditional weapons. Warfare was a major part of Comanche life. The dreaded Comanche raids into Mexico, going as far south as Central America, traditionally took place during the full moon, when the Comanche could see to ride at night. This led to the term "Comanche Moon," during which the Comanche raided for horses, captives, weapons, and simply to spread terror.
The Comanches maintained an ambiguous relationship with the Europeans and later settlers attempting to colonize their territory. They were valued as trading partners, but they were also feared for their raids. Similarly, the Comanches were at war at one time or another with virtually every other Native American group living in the Great Plains, leaving opportunities for political maneuvering by the European colonial powers and the United States. At one point, Sam Houston, president of the newly created Republic of Texas, almost succeeded in reaching a peace treaty with the Comanches, but his efforts were thwarted when the Texas legislature refused to create an official boundary between Texas and the Comancheria.
While the Comanches managed to maintain their independence and even increase their territory, by the mid-nineteenth century they faced annihilation because of a wave of epidemics was introduced by white settlers. Outbreaks of smallpox (1817, 1848) and cholera (1849) took a major toll on the Comanches, whose population dropped from an estimated 20,000 in mid-century to just a few thousand by the 1870s.
Efforts to move the Comanches into reservations began in the late 1860s with the Treaty of Medicine Lodge (1867), which offered them churches, schools, and annuities in return for a vast tract of land totaling over 60,000 square miles (160,000 km²). The government promised to stop the buffalo hunters, who were decimating the great herds of the Plains, provided that the Comanches, along with the Apaches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, and Arapahos moved to a reservation totaling less than 5,000 square miles (13,000 km²) of land. However, the government elected not to prevent the slaughtering of the herds, which provoked the Comanches under Isa-tai (White Eagle) to attack a group of hunters in the Texas Panhandle in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls (1874). The attack was a disaster for the Comanches and the army was called in to drive all the remaining Comanche in the area into the reservation. Within just ten years, the buffalo were on the verge of extinction, effectively ending the Comanche way of life as hunters. In 1875, the last free band of Comanches, led by Quahadi warrior Quanah Parker, surrendered and moved to the Fort Sill reservation in Oklahoma.
In 1892 the government negotiated the Jerome Agreement, with the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches, further reducing their reservation to 480,000 acres (1,940 km²) at a cost of $1.25 per acre ($308.88/km²), with an allotment of 160 acres (0.6 km²) per person per tribe to be held in trust. New allotments were made in 1906 to all children born after the Jerome Agreement, and the remaining land was opened to white settlement. With this new arrangement, the era of the Comanche reservation came to an abrupt end.
Medicine Lodge Treaty
The Medicine Lodge Treaty was a set of three treaties signed between the United States of America and the Kiowa, Comanche, Plains Apache, Southern Cheyenne, and Southern Arapaho at Medicine Lodge Creek, Kansas in October 1867.
Though commonly referred to in the singular, the Medicine Lodge Treaty actually consisted of three separate treaties. The first was signed October 21, 1867 with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes. The second, with the Kiowa-Apache, was signed the same day, while the third, with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, was signed on October 28.
The United States federal government during this time repeatedly reduced the size of Indian reservations. The Medicine Lodge Treaty assigned reservations with the aforementioned tribes, bringing them in close contact with the Sioux, Shoshones, Bannocks, and Navajos, setting the scene for more conflict for dwindling resources.
On June 20, 1867, Congress established the Indian Peace Commission to negotiate peace with Plains Indian tribes who were warring with the United States. The commission met in St. Louis, Missouri on August 6, 1867, where its first order of business was to elect Nathaniel G. Taylor, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, as its president. Commissioners agreed that last peace was contingent upon separating Indians regarded as "hostile" from those regarded as friendly, removing all Indian tribes onto reservations away from the routes of U.S. westward expansion, and making provision for their maintenance.
Beside the Indian Commissioner Nathaniel G. Taylor as president, other members of the peace commission were Lt. Gen. William T. Sherman, commander of the Military Division of the Missouri; Maj. Gen. William S. Harney (retired), who had taken part in earlier conflicts with the Cheyenne and Sioux along the Platte River, Brig. Gen. Alfred H. Terry, commander of the Military Department of Dakota; Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri, Chairman of the Senate Indian Appropriations Committee, who had introduced the bill that created the peace commission; Col. Samuel F. Tappan, formerly of the First Colorado Volunteer Cavalry and a peace advocate who had led the U.S. Army's investigation of the Sand Creek massacre; Maj. Gen. John B. Sanborn, formerly commander of the Upper Arkansas District who had previously helped to negotiate the Treaty of the Little Arkansas of 1865. Sherman, having made public remarks indicating his disagreement with the peace policy, was called to Washington, D.C. and could not be present at the councils on the southern plains, including the council at Medicine Lodge Creek. Maj. Gen. Christopher C. Augur, commander of the Military Department of the Platte, replaced him as a temporary appointment.
After an abortive meeting with northern Plains Indians in September, the commission gathered at Fort Leavenworth in early October and traveled from there by rail to Fort Harker, where it was joined by an escort of five hundred troops of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment and Battery B of the 4th artillery armed with two Gatling guns all under the command of Maj. Joel H. Elliott who had been excused from attending the court martial proceedings for Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer then underway at Fort Leavenworth. The commission was also accompanied by a large number of newspaper reporters who provided detailed coverage of the people and events related to the commission's work.
The commission arrived at Fort Larned on October 11, where some chiefs were already present, including Black Kettle of the Cheyenne, Little Raven of the Arapaho, and Satanta of the Kiowa. At the insistence of the tribes, the meetings were moved from Larned to Medicine Lodge Creek, a traditional Indian ceremonial site. Preliminary discussions beginning on October 15 concluded that the Hancock expedition led earlier in 1867 by Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, during which a large Cheyenne and Sioux village at Pawnee Fork had been destroyed, had been ill-conceived. This conclusion, and the commissioners' apology for the village's destruction, served to clear the air and create a more positive atmosphere for the councils, which began in earnest on October 19.
The treaties negotiated at Medicine Lodge Creek were similar in their terms, involving surrender of traditional tribal territories in exchange for much smaller reservations in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma and allowances of food, clothing, equipment, and weapons and ammunition for hunting.
Treaties with the Kiowa, Comanche, and Plains Apache
Under the first of the three Medicine Lodge treaties, the Kiowa and Comanche were compelled to give up move than 60,000 square miles (160,000 km²) of traditional tribal territories in exchange for a 3 million acre (12,000 km²) in the southwest corner of Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), most of it lying between the North Fork of the Red River and the North Canadian River. The tribes would also be provided houses, barns, and schools worth $30,000, which the tribes did not actually want. Through second treaty, the Plains or Kiowa-Apache were incorporated into the first treaty; this treaty was signed by all the Kiowa and Comanche signatories of the first treaty, along with several Plains Apache chiefs. The treaties with the Kiowa, Commanche, and Plains Apache tribes were concluded on October 21, 1867.
Kiowa chiefs signing
- Satank, or Sitting Bear
- Sa-tan-ta, or White Bear
- Wa-toh-konk, or Black Eagle
- Ton-a-en-ko, or Kicking Eagle (Kicking Bird)
- Fish-e-more, or Stinking Saddle
- Ma-ye-tin, or Woman's Heart
- Sa-tim-gear, or Stumbling Bear
- Sit-par-ga, [Sa-pa-ga] or One Bear
- Cor-beau, or The Crow
- Sa-ta-more, or Bear Lying Down
Comanche chiefs signing
- Parry-wah-say-men, or Ten Bears
- Tep-pe-navon, or Painted Lips
- To-sa-in (To-she-wi), or Silver Brooch
- Cear-chi-neka, or Standing Feather
- Ho-we-ar, or Gap in the Woods
- Tir-ha-yah-gua-hip, or Horse's Back
- Es-a-nanaca (Es-a-man-a-ca), or Wolf's Name
- Ah-te-es-ta, or Little Horn
- Pooh-yah-to-yeh-be, or Iron Mountain
- Sad-dy-yo, or Dog Fat
Plains Apache chiefs signing
- Mah-vip-pah, Wolf's Sleeve
- Kon-zhon-ta-co, Poor Bear
- Cho-se-ta, or Bad Back
- Nah-tan, or Brave Man
- Ba-zhe-ech, Iron Shirt
- Til-la-ka, or WhiteHorn
Treaty with the Cheyenne and Arapaho
Under the Treaty of the Little Arkansas (1865), the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes had been assigned as a reservation those portions of Kansas and Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) between the Arkansas and Cimarron rivers that lay east of an imaginary line running north from Buffalo Creek on the Cimarron up to the Arkansas. Under the Medicine Lodge Treaty, their assigned territory was cut to less than half of the territory of the 1865 treaty, to only that land that was south of the Kansas state line, for a total of 4.3 million acres of land. Additionally, the tribes were to be permitted to continue to hunt north of the Arkansas River for as long as the buffalo remained, ao long as they stayed away from white settlements and roads. This concession was made in in order to obtain the participation of the Dog Soldiers
Cheyenne chiefs signing
- O-to-ah-nac-co, Bull Bear
- Moke-tav-a-to, Black Kettle
- Nac-co-hah-ket, Little Bear
- Mo-a-vo-va-ast, Spotted Elk
- Is-se-von-ne-ve, Buffalo Chief
- Vip-po-nah, Slim Face
- Wo-pah-ah, Gray Head
- O-ni-hah-ket, Little Rock
- Ma-mo-ki, or Curly Hair
- O-to-ah-has-tis, Tall Bull
- Wo-po-ham, or White Horse
- Hah-ket-home-mah, Little Robe
- Min-nin-ne-wah, Whirlwind
- Mo-yan-histe-histow, Heap of Birds
Arapaho chiefs signing
- Little Raven
- Yellow Bear
- White Rabbit
- Spotted Wolf
- Little Big Mouth
- Young Colt
- Tall Bear
The alleged Treaty was immediately controversial and contested by both the members and leadership of most of the involved tribes. Because the tribes involved were all democratic societies, acceptance of the treaty was contingent upon ratification of 3/4 of the adult members of each of the tribes. This condition was part of the treaty itself. This ratification was never obtained, and thus the treaty was never made valid or legal. This conflict continued for years until the Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf sued the US Secretary of the Interior on behalf of the entirety of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache tribes, all of whom were defrauded by the government. The case, LONE WOLF v. HITCHCOCK, 187 U.S. 553, was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1903. In the decision the Court conceded that the tribes had never agreed to the treaty, but concluded that it did not matter because American Indians did not merit protection of the Bill of Rights, claiming that they were "wards of the nation... Dependent [on the United States] for their daily food". With this same legal status as the institutionalized such as the criminally insane and mentally retarded, they did not have the same rights as full persons of other races who were considered able to make some decisions for themselves. This legal precedent has never been overturned and still influences the position of the United States government towards all aboriginal American tribes.