Comanche

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Comanche

(kəmăn`chē), Native North Americans belonging to the Shoshonean group of the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). They originated from a Basin-type culture and eventually adopted a Plains culture. They separated from the Shoshone and migrated southward in the late 1600s, appearing in New Mexico around 1705. In the late 18th cent. and early 19th cent. their range included SE Colorado, SW Kansas, W Oklahoma, and N Texas. The Comanche were excellent horsemen and inveterate raiders, often pushing far S into Mexico. They were extremely warlike and effectively prevented white settlers from passing safely through their territory for more than a century. They are said to have killed more whites in proportion to their own numbers than any other Native American group. They were associated with the Kiowa, the Cheyenne, and the Arapaho in a loose confederacy. The Comanche, however, considered themselves superior to their associates, and their language served as the trade language for the area. The sun dance, a common feature in the Plains culture area, was not an important part of Comanche culture; they probably introduced the peyotepeyote
, spineless cactus (Lophophora williamsii), ingested by indigenous people in Mexico and the United States to produce visions. The plant is native to the SW United States, particularly S Texas, and Mexico, where it grows in dry soil.
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 ritual to the Plains tribes. Never a large group despite their wide range, their numbers were greatly reduced by warfare and disease. In 1990 there were about 11,500 Comanche in the United States.

Bibliography

See E. Wallace and E. A. Hoebel, Comanches, The Lords of the South Plains (1952); J. E. Harston, Comanche Land (1963); A. C. Greene, The Last Captive (1972); T. R. Fehrenbach, Comanches: The Destruction of a People (1974); P. Hamalainen, The Comanche Empire (2009); S. C. Gwynne, Empire of the Summer Moon (2010).

Comanche

 

one of the Shoshonean-speaking Indian tribes that inhabited the southwestern plains region of North America. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were nomadic horse breeders and bison hunters; they numbered approximately 30,000. During the 19th century they waged a heroic struggle against the colonizers who invaded their lands. Comanche resistance was broken in 1875, and the survivors (approximately 1,400 persons) were sent under escort to reservations in Oklahoma. The present-day Comanches (who numbered 5,800 in 1950) work mainly as hired hands on farms and ranches.

Comanche

horse; sole survivor of Little Big Horn massacre (1876). [Am. Hist.: Wallechinsky, 126]
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