The Comanches were almost as new to Texas as the Spanish. They came from way up north from northern Colorado. The Comanches were once part of the Shoshone Indians. The Comanche language and the Shoshone language are still almost the same. Bands of Comanches began moving south. By around 1740 they first showed up in the Texas panhandle.

Before the Comanches arrived the Jumano Indians, some Pueblo Indians, and some Apache Indians had lived in the Southern Plains. To move into this area the Comanches first had to drive these other tribes out. This area is now part of the Texas Panhandle and Northwest Texas. Later, they kept moving south. By the middle 1700s they had almost made it to where Kerrville is now and over to near Austin.

The Comanches were organized as bands. They are not really a tribe. The only time there were leaders over more than one band was when two or three bands joined to fight a common enemy or to go on a raid. Then a temporary war chief would be named to lead the war parties. After the war or raid the chief would quit and each band would go back to its own leaders.

There were about 12 bands of Comanches, but this number probably changed. The most famous band was the Penatekas. Penateka means "honey eater" in Comanche. When the Comanches first started moving south they came one or two bands at a time. Tradition says the Penateka band was the first to move south. Other bands soon followed. They moved from an environment of mountain valleys with limited food resources and harsh winters out onto the great plains. On the plains they hunted buffalo and elk and learned to live like other plains Indians. The plains gave them more food, but they had to compete with the other Indian tribes who already lived on the plains.

The Comanche got their first horses around 1680 from the Spanish and Pueblo Indians. Once they had horses they learned to use them well. Many experts have said that the Comanche were the finest light cavalry in the world. When it came to riding and fighting on horseback only the Cheyenne Indians came anywhere close. The Comanches used this skill with horses to win many battles and overcome their opponents.

They lived in teepees, like most plains Indians, and they were nomadic. Each band would move around from place to place to hunt and trade. Often they would cover hundreds of miles in one year. When they moved they would load every thing on to a wooden frame made of two poles called a travois. The poles came from the teepee and a horse would pull the travois. Before they had horses a dog would pull a smaller travois. Because they moved around so much they liked things that were light weight and that did not break easily. This is why they did not make or use much pottery. They made and used baskets and leather to make containers. They also used animal skins and woven grass mats on the floors of their teepees.


A Comanche Village in 1834 by George Catlin

When the Spanish tried to settle in Texas in the 1700s it was the Comanches who kept them in the south of Texas. After conquering so many other Indian cultures the Spanish could not defeat the Comanches and move farther north. When the Germans and Americans started moving near and into Comanche territory they received the same.

To Be Continued...