Comanche Society: Before the Reservation

By Gerald Betty | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Comanche Kinship
and Society

MEETING SOMETIME IN NOVEMBER, 1785, AT A PLACE ALONG the Arkansas River called La Casa de Palo, various Cuchanec (Cuchantica), Jupe, and Yamparica Comanche clans discussed the prospects of forging a general peace with the inhabitants of Spanish New Mexico.1 Several months earlier, on July 12, four hundred of these Indians had journeyed to Taos in search of reconciliation, particularly for amicable trade opportunities. Comanches had oftentimes visited the pueblo since their ancestors first appeared in the province around 1706. An uneasy relationship based on intermittent commerce and violence existed throughout the eighteenth century, benefiting and bedeviling both New Mexicans and their Plains Indian visitors. Trade fairs such as those held occasionally at Taos, Pecos, Ojo Caliente, and various other sites could be transformed from an orderly, congenial affair into a violent maelstrom in a matter of minutes. At one such event held in Taos sometime during the 1740s, the Comanches in attendance, uttering various grudges, capriciously retrieved their weapons and attacked the pueblo in retaliation for some apparent extortion exacted by the settlers. The eighteenth-century governors of New Mexico repeatedly issued proclamations imposing strict regulations upon commercial interaction in an attempt to maintain order throughout the province. Officials often decreed harsh penalties, including confiscation of property, fines, jail terms, and whippings, for those citizens who violated the edicts. These measures, however, invariably failed to arrest permanently the violence between Spanish subjects and Comanches.2

As officials became frustrated in their efforts to establish tranquility within

-13-

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Comanche Society: Before the Reservation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Comanche Society i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter 1 - Comanche Kinship and Society 13
  • Chapter 2 - Comanche Migration and Geographic Mobility 46
  • Chapter 3 - Comanche Horse Pastoralism 74
  • Chapter 4 - The Nature of Comanche Economics 96
  • Chapter 5 - An Explanation of Comanche Violence 121
  • Conclusion 139
  • Appendix 1 - A Discussion of Theoretical Issues 145
  • Appendix 2 - A Timeline of Comanche History, 1706–1850 151
  • Appendix 3 - Glossary of Spanish Terms 177
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 215
  • Index 227
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