The Comanches traded regularly with other tribes of the Great Plains and the Southwest. They particularly liked to trade horses, and Comanche traders were repsonsible for the rapid spread of horses throughout Western America. Some of their favorite trading partners were the Wichita and Osage.
Because of their skills as traders, the Comanches controlled much of the commerce of the Southern Plains. They bartered buffalo products, horses, and captives for manufactured items and foodstuffs. Horses also became a measure of Comanche wealth and a valuable trade commodity.
Summary and Definition: The Comanche tribe were a formidable people located in the southern areas of the Great Plains. The Comanche tribe were renown as excellent horsemen. They fiercely fought against enemy tribes of Native Indians and resisted the white encroachment of the Great Plains.
The Comanche economy can be characterized in three modes: a domestic economy of hunting and gathering, a commercial economy of trade and raid, and a political-diplomatic economy. In the domestic economy, Comanches used both individual stalking of bison and group methods.
Highly skilled Comanche horsemen set the pattern of nomadic equestrian life that became characteristic of the Plains tribes in the 18th and 19th centuries. Comanche raids for material goods, horses, and captives carried them as far south as Durango in present-day Mexico.
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. Remember that they did not have any horses back then, so they had to walk to get around and hunt.
In addition to buffalo meat, the Comanche Indians ate small game like rabbits, fished in the lakes and rivers, and gathered nuts, berries, and wild potatoes.
The Comanche tribes’ nickname from many people was ” Lords of the Plains”. They were once said to be the most important tribe in the plains states. Most of this had to do with having the largest and best herd of horses of any Indian tribe, and being a very feared warrior.
There may have been as many as 45,000 Comanches in the late 18th century. They were the dominant tribe on the Southern Plains and often took captives from weaker tribes during warfare, selling them as slaves to the Spanish and later Mexican settlers.
The Comanche and Spanish undertook joint operations against their common Apache enemy. The Spanish extended their settlements eastward onto the Great Plains and the population of New Mexico increased. The Spanish showered the Comanche with gifts and removed trade restrictions on guns and ammunition.
Baylor sent a farmer and laborer to assist them, and the first crops were planted- corn, melons, beans, peas, pumpkins, and other vegetables. The Comanches cultivated the crops remarkably well, but extreme drought kept them from producing all they needed.
The Comanche tribe currently has approximately 17,000 enrolled tribal members with around 7,000 residing in the tribal jurisdictional area around the Lawton, Ft Sill, and surrounding counties.
There were no priests and few group ceremonies. The Comanche believed in a creator spirit and its counterpart, an evil spirit, and accepted the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon as deities. The religion was animistic with natural objects and animal spirits (except for dogs and horses) having various powers.
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.