Comanches, a tribe of American Indians belonging to the great Shoshone family. They are a roving race, living in skin lodges with no fixed villages, roaming when first known from the head waters of the Brazos and Colorado to those of the Arkansas and Missouri, and in some bands penetrating to Durango in Mexico and to Santa Fe in New Mexico. They are great hunters and warriors, and have been at war with the Spaniards, and with the Osages, Pawnees, and other tribes of the plains, from an early period. Their traditions are vague, but they claim to have come from the west. They believe in a supreme being called Niatpo (my father), and have medicine men called puhacan. They call themselves Naiini (" live people"); but the Kansas called them Padou-cas, the name adopted by the French, and the Spaniards Comanches, a term adopted in the United States. They are divided into eight bands. The Comanches have a martial air, and, though rather heavy and ungraceful on foot, are splendid on horseback. They pro-Cured horses from the Spaniards at an early day by theft, accident, or purchase, and becoming expert riders acquired additional power. - The French under Dutisne first reached their country in 1719, and began to buy horses from them.
In 1724 an expedition under De Bourg-mont visited their principal bands and made a treaty with them. They were then scattered over a tract of 200 leagues, those near the Spaniards in villages more or less fixed, those remote moving as game required. One village visited by De Bourgmont contained 140 lodges, 800 warriors, 1,500 women, and 2,000 children. Both sexes were then and have always been more decently dressed than Indians generally, the men wearing a regular pantaloon and good moccasins, those of the women extending up till they reached the tunic. They had long and bloody wars with the Spaniards till Anza in 1783, in a vigorous campaign, defeated and killed 30 chiefs, among them the great war chief Tabivonaritgante, called by the Spaniards Cuernoverde. This established peace for some time, and a chief named Maya sent his son to Mexico, who after receiving a little education returned to succeed his father, and thus kept up the good feeling. Morfi, the historian of Texas, about 1780 estimated them at 5,000 warriors. In 1816 they lost 4,000 by smallpox, and in 1822 were estimated at about 9,000 in all; but Catlin some years later put their numbers much higher. President Burnet in 1847 estimated them at 10,000 or 12,000, 2,000 or 2,500 being warriors.
They have always been dangerous and troublesome. They were at one time on a reservation in Texas, but were expelled and have since been unrelenting enemies of that state. The United States government has collected some of them on a new reservation in the western part of the Indian territory. One part, the Quauhada, or Staked Plain Comanches, ridicule the idea of settling down, but were chastised by Col. McKenzie at McClellan's creek in 1872. The Comanches were estimated in 1872 at 3,218, the roving bands numbering perhaps 1,000 more. Their individual property was estimated at $400,000. They have consequently lost greatly, their numbers not being recruited as formerly by young Mexican captives of both sexes.
A Comanche Warrior.