ComancheComanche is pronounced “kuh-MAN-chee. The Comanche Indians, a nomadic offshoot of the Eastern Shoshoni Indians, lived on the North-American Southern Great Plains during 1800-1900s.  The name “Comanche”,  a household word found in many works of fiction, TV shows, videogames etc., is believed to come from the Spanish “interpretation” of their Ute name “Kohmahts”, meaning: those who are against us, or want to fight us.  The Comanche People call themselves “Numunuh”, which means: The People.  Early explorers knew them as “Padouca”; their Siouan name. The Comanche language, Uto-Aztecan (Numic), is closely related to the Shoshoni (Ute) linguistic stock.

The Comanche Indians were once part of the Northern Shoshone tribe of Wyoming, but split off from them and migrated to their modern location in the Southern Plains. By the time Europeans encountered them, the Comanche were primarily living in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Most Comanche people today live in Oklahoma.

Prior to their acquiring the horse and gradually migrating to the Southern Great Plains around the 1700s, The Comanche had primarily been a hunter-gatherer people.  They moved, attacking and taking over territory occupied by other tribes including the Crow, the Cherokee, the Creek, the Choctaw, and the Kiowa, Apaches, and Utes.   Plains Indian tribes treated war differently than European countries did. They didn’t fight over territory but instead to prove their courage, and so Plains Indian war parties rarely fought to the death or destroyed each other’s villages. Instead, their war customs included counting coup (touching an opponent in battle without harming him), stealing an enemy’s weapon or horse, or forcing the other tribe’s warriors to retreat. So the Comanche sometimes were enemies of neighboring tribes and at other times they were allies. The Europeans who first met them were surprised by how often the Comanche tribe fought with their neighbors, yet how easily they made peace with each other when they were done fighting.

It is believed the Comanche were the first people of the Plains to use horses in their travels and conquests; they even supplied Americans with horses to reach California during the Gold Rush of 1849.  The Comanche were also dependent on the buffalo for food and clothing.

The Comanche were not a unified tribe, and were divided into 8 to 12 autonomous Sub-Nations which lacked the usual government and military organization of the Other Plains Tribes.  In turn this gave way to smaller bands and divisions.  Comanche population was also in constant flux due to the numerous casualties resulting from conflict, so their numbers varied greatly. It is estimated there are presently over 11,000 people of Comanche descent living in the United-States.

Since the Comanche Indians were more involved in warfare than storytelling and keeping historical records, most of what we know of them is through often biased third party account.

Adapted from