This is the last of Black History Month and I was asked to do one more but with a twist. The twist will be not of a Black person but to give honor to an American Indian. Indians are seldom mentioned when it comes to doing something great but with just a little research shows there are many.
I could talk about this great nation being taken from the Indian. I could talk about the ‘Wind Talkers’ that helped win WWII. I even could talk about the Indians that lead the wagon trains across the west to help White people settle their lands. But this blog installment is about a man that led his people from certain extension. I will write this in the way I write for The Albemarle Tradewinds Magazine of which I am a regular contributor for their music column and special interest column.
(1845-February 24, 1911)
Quanah Parker was a war leader of the Kwahadi (Antelope) band of the Comanche nation. Quanah (Comanche, ‘smell, odor’) was born about 1850 on Elk Creek just below the Wichita Mountains to Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker. Cynthia Ann Parker (born c. 1827), was a member of the large Parker frontier family that settled in east Texas in the 1930s. She was captured in 1936 (c. age nine) by Comanches during the raid of Fort Parker near present-day Groesbeck, Texas.
At the battle of Pease River, as the American Forces (U.S. 2nd Cavalry and Texas Rangers) Quanah Parker and his brother were the only warriors to escape by horseback. After his father’s death, Horseback, the head of the Nokoni people, took Quanah and his brother under his wing. Horseback taught them the ways of the Comanche warrior, and Quanah grew to considerable standing as a warrior. He left and rejoined the Kwahadi band with warriors from another band. Quanah Parker surrendered and was taken to Fort Sill, Indian Territory where he led Comanches successfully for several years on the reservation.
Quanah Parker was never elected principal chief of the Comanche by the tribe, but the U.S. government appointed him principal chief of the entire nation once the people had gathered on the reservation and later introduced general elections. He also became a primary emissary of southwest indigenous Americans to the United States legislature. In civilian life, he gained wealth as a rancher, settling near Cache, Oklahoma. Though he encouraged Christianization of Comanche people he also advocated the syncretic Native American Church (of which he founded), and passionately fought for the use of peyote in the movement’s religious practices.
He was elected deputy sheriff of Lawson in 1902. After his death in 1911, the leadership title of Chief was replaced with Chairman; Quanah Parker is thereby described as the “Last Chief of the Comanche,” a term also applied to Horseback. He is buried at Chief’s Knoll on Fort Sill. Many cities and highway systems in southwest Oklahoma and north Texas, once southern Comancheria, bear references to his name.
Quanah is only one person out of many, many more. Take the time to research and read about them. I squashed Quanah’s bio down to a few words, there is quite a bit more. I hope all of you have found this piece interesting. Let me know.