Comanche Indians

Comanche Indians. Significance unknown. Also called:

  • Allebome, given by Lewis and Clark as the French name.
  • Bald Heads, so called by Long (1823).
  • Bo’dalk’ ifiago, Kiowa name, meaning “reptile people,” “snake men.”
  • Ca’-tha, Arapaho name, meaning “having many horses.”
  • Cintu-aluka, Teton Dakota name.
  • D8ts~-a°, Kiowa Apache name (Gatschet, MS, BAE).
  • Gyai’-ko, Kiowa name, meaning “enemies.”
  • Idahi, Kiowa Apache name (Mooney, 1896).
  • Inds, Jicarilla name.
  • La Plais, French traders’ name, perhaps corrupted from T6te Pelee.
  • La’-ri’hta, Pawnee name.
  • Los Mecos, Mexican name.
  • Mahan, Isleta name. Malaria, Taos name
  • Na”lani, Navaho name, meaning “many aliens,” or “many enemies” (collective for Plains tribes).
  • Na’nita, Kichai name. Nar-a-tah, Waco name.
  • Na’taa, Wichita name, meaning “snakes,” i. e., “enemies.”
  • Ne’me n6, or Nimenim, own name, or Nilma, meaning “people.”
  • Padouca, common early name, evidently from the name of the Penateka band.
  • Sanko, obsolete Kiowa name.
  • Sau’hto, Caddo name.
  • Selakamp6m, Comecrudo name for all warlike tribes but especially for the Comanche.
  • Shlshln6wiltz-hita’neo, Cheyenne name meaning “snake people.”
  • Snake Indians, common name.
  • T@te Pelee, French traders’ name, identification somewhat doubtful.
  • Yampah or Ya’mpaini, Shoshoni name, meaning “Yampa people,” or “Yampa eaters.”

Comanche Connections. The Comanche belonged to the Shoshonean linguistic family, a branch of Uto-Aztecan, its tongue being almost identical with that of the Shoshoni.

Comanche Location. In northwestern Texas and the region beyond as far as Arkansas River. (See also Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.)

Comanche Subdivisions

The following are the names of Comanche bands so far as these are known:

  • Detsanayuka or Nokoni
  • Ditsakana, Widyu, Yapa or Yamparika
  • Kewatsana
  • Kotsai
  • Kotsoteka, Kwahari or Kwahadi
  • Motsai
  • Pagatsu
  • Penateka or Penande
  • Pohoi (adopted Shoshoni)
  • Tanima, Tenawa or Tenahwit
  • Waaih

Various writers also mention the following:

  • Guage-johe
  • Ketahto
  • Kwashi
  • Muvinabore
  • Nauniem
  • Parkeenaum

Comanche History

Although differing today in physical type, on account of their close linguistic relationship it is supposed that the original Comanche must have separated from the Shoshoni in the neighborhood of eastern Wyoming. The North Platte was known as Padouca Fork as late as 1805. In 1719, however, the Comanche are placed by early writers in southwestern Kansas. For a long time the Arkansas River was their southern boundary, but finally they moved below it attracted by opportunities to obtain horses from the Mexicans and pushed on by other peoples. The Apache, who were in the country invaded, attacked them but were defeated. In this movement the Penateka Comanche were in advance and from the name of this band comes Padouca, one of the old terms applied to the entire people. For a long time the Comanche were at war with the Spaniards and the Apache, and later with the Americans. Texas suffered so much from their depredations that the famous Texas Rangers were organized as a protection against them and proved extremely effective. In 1854, by permission of the State of Texas, the Federal Government established two reservations upon Brazos River and some of the Comanche and Kiowa were placed upon the upper reserve. Friction with the settlers, however, continued and compelled the abandonment of these reserves in 1859 and the removal of the Indians to the territory embraced in the present State of Oklahoma. By a treaty concluded October 18, 1865, a reservation was set apart for the Comanche and Kiowa consisting of the Panhandle of Texas and all of Oklahoma west of Cimarron River and the 98th meridian of west longitude. By a treaty concluded October 21, 1867, they surrendered all of this except a tract of land in southwestern Oklahoma between the 98th meridian, Red River, the North Fork of Red River, and Washita River. They did not settle finally upon this land, however, until after the last outbreak of the southern prairie tribes in 1874–75. Their descendants continue to live in the same territory.

Comanche Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that there must have been 7,000 Comanche about 1690. The census of 1904 gives 1,400; the census of 1910, 1,171; and the United States Indian Office Report for 1923 shows a total of 1,697. The census of 1930 returned 1,423. In 1937 the figure given is 2,213.

Connection in which the Comanche Indians have become noted. The Comanche were one of the most famous tribes of the Plains, particularly the southern Plains. They were remarkable

  1. for their numbers, horsemanship, and warlike character;
  2. for the frequent clashes between them and the White expeditions or bodies of emigrants;
  3. as largely instrumental in introducing horses to the Indians of the northern Plains. They gave place names to counties in Kansas and Texas; a mountain in Texas; and places in Yellowstone County, Mont.; Comanche County, Tex.; and Stephens County, Okla. There is a Comanche River in Colorado.



Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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1 thought on “Comanche Indians”

  1. I am interested in the Comanche tribes located near and around San Antonio, Uvalde, and Rio Frio. Was there a camp? What was the tribe name? What happened to them? Any direction would be amazing. I am at a dead end.

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