The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives

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

14   Buckskin Charlie versus Kiowas and Comanches
| July 1868 |

[At least one page is missing from this narrative.]

A large group of Kiowa warriors led by Big Bow and Heap of Bears planned to go toward the Rocky Mountains to seek battle with the Utes. Heap of Bears was the high priest of the Kiowa Sun Dance.

A group of Root-eater Comanches, numbering probably two score or so, joined this large Kiowa war party. The leader of the Comanche group was Esiturepu. Other Comanches in the group included Attocknie, Esitoya, Cheevers, Isarosavit, Pahwoonard, and Tischecoddy.

The mounted war party had collected and was moving west but was not yet out of the Wichita Mountains when the Comanches in the party ran across a brown bear. This called for some fun so the Comanches quickly surrounded the alarmed animal and began to play with it. The bear attempted to escape for a while but, seeming to realize the futileness of this, stopped, and, putting its back against a large tree, bravely turned to face its tormentors. Although the warriors were well armed with firearms, as well as spears and bows and arrows, they were not ready to kill the tired and angry animal. The warriors made a sport of approaching as near to the baited bear as they could and then dodged or avoided the dangerous swipes of the bear’s claws.

The Comanches knew of their Kiowa companions’ morbid dread of bears, but the Kiowas’ superstitions and beliefs meant little or nothing to the Comanches, who knew the bear as a four-footed, fur-bearing animal that could provide sport and rich meat if buffalo, deer, or other more desirable food animals were not found. The bear could also provide meat that was more fit for humans to eat than the meat of dogs, which was so greatly relished by the Kiowas.

Attocknie was very familiar with the Kiowas and their beliefs and could understand and speak their language: he had a half-brother and a halfsister who had a Kiowa father. Attocknie was familiar enough with Kiowa beliefs that he did not take part in the bear baiting, although he was an interested and, from the way he told it, an amused spectator.

Time and time again the angry animal would narrowly miss clawing

-109-

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