The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives

By Francis Joseph Attocknie; Thomas W. Kavanagh | Go to book overview

13   Onawia Takes a New Wife and Goes to Mexico
| 1868 |

Onawia was a Yamparika horse-warrior whose ability at war and leadership had made him a war chief who never failed to have large followings in any of his undertakings. His wife, Sahpahyeh, was a tall, good-looking woman of his own band who was slightly older than Onawia.

Onawia’s Yamparikas went to a point up north in their country where they had been told the U.S. government agents would meet them with supply wagons and issue the Comanches food and clothing. The U.S. government did just as it said it would and met the Comanches. On the day of the issue, they issued the Indians coffee, sugar, flour, rice, beans, and salt bacon. The government also issued the Indians pants, coats, vests, hats, shoes, and bolt material to make more clothing. The government, by now well worked up and thoroughly permeated with the spirit of giving, outdid itself and broke out cases of guns and black powder, along with bullets and lead, with molds for making more bullets, and passed out these deadly means of waging war to the intently interested Yamparika warriors. It would be an understatement to say the weapons were merely “well” received.

The Comanches gratefully accepted the coffee and sugar of which they were very fond. The flour, rice, and beans they accepted and took for just long enough time to merely undo the sacks in which these commodities were issued and pour out the contents on the ground. These life-sustaining commodities were left there as waste, the Comanches salvaging only the sacks in which the food came. The Comanches tried to eat the salt pork but rejected it as too salty. They left the slabs of pork at their campsites when they moved; some slabs of meat were thrown into a nearby stream to serve as stepping stones for people crossing this stream. This issued salted meat was to cause Comanches to believe for a long time to come that the hog, while still alive, was a naturally salty animal, even as little pigs. Comanches on seeing baby pigs were to remark that it was almost impossible to believe these little animals running about could have such salty flesh.

Almost no clothing was wasted. The issued hats and vests were donned as-is by the receivers on the spot, they being very fancied items in a

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