Comanche Society: Before the Reservation

By Gerald Betty | Go to book overview

Conclusion

STUDENTS OF COMANCHE BEHAVIOR HAVE TENDED TO UNDERstand it as the result of an adaptation to various environmental conditions. This type of interpretation has given rise to the perception that Comanche society developed in response to the climatic and economic circumstances of the Great Basin prior to 1706 and of the southern Great Plains during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. According to this way of thinking, Comanches’ historical behavior should be understood as a consequence of the interaction between the environment and the group.

Unfortunately, the social organization of a group does not determine people’s actions. Rather, the structure is an effect of human social and kinship behavior. The fundamental basis of social behavior is the kinship behavior parents demonstrate in sacrificing their interests in favor of their child’s. Social behavior implies a sacrifice of one’s interests in favor of the interests of another. Chief Ecueracapa demonstrated this when he offered his three sons to the Spanish for military service against the Apaches. In this case, he literally sacrificed his and his sons’ interests in favor of the welfare of Gov. Juan Bautista de Anza and Spanish New Mexico. Anza did not misunderstand the social nature of this act. He responded in kind by charging his soldiers to “look after and attend [the young Comanches] with great goodwill and kindness.”1

The social behavior involved in the parent-child relationship is ultimately based on kinship. Comanches used kin terms and clan, or family, names to identify their ancestors and co-descendant relatives. The use of these encouraged an

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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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