The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives

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

15   The Battle of the Washita
| November 26, 1868 |

Although this history has been known to some Comanches as it actually happened, it has seemed that most Comanches preferred to let the past be the past. But then it reaches the point where proud Comanche history and deeds may be slighted, yes, even appropriated by others or at the very least overlooked, thereby causing the erroneous impression that Comanches did not know anything about the Washita Battle and its tragic results to Black Kettle. Therefore, we who were fortunate enough to receive truthful and unvarnished Comanche accounts of that wintry action on Tuhuvihunubi (as the Washita River was historically and prehistorically known to the Comanches) do now, belatedly perhaps, put on paper the part played by the Yamparika Ten Bears’ Comanches, who were spending their first post–Medicine Lodge Treaty winter this far south.

A part of Ten Bears’ Comanche followers were encamped along the river. Among others in the camp were Attocknie, who was married to Ten Bears’ granddaughter. Also in the camp were Pahtooavoniquo, Arrives with a Leap, Isarosavit, and Tavanau. Attocknie awakened early to realize the village was astir. Subfreezing weather existed. Before long it became known that enemy soldiers were approaching from the west. Attocknie along with other Yamparika horse-warriors hastily prepared and moved west along the river.

A strong premonition had awakened Pahtooavoniquo and caused him to visualize a well-mounted warrior running his horse along within shooting range of soldiers who were firing a nerve-blasting volume of gunfire at the riding warrior. Pahtooavoniquo realized that his vision was asking him, “Do you see that rider? That is you yourself. Arise, make ready, and go join the battle.”

Pahtooavoniquo quickly bathed, painted, and followed the supernatural suggestion. Early as he had responded and arrived at the battle, Tavanau not only had arrived there ahead of Pahtooavoniquo but had also already made a run at the blue-dressed soldiers and drawn a resounding round of deadly gunfire. The Comanche womenfolks who had got up early enough to witness this part of the action enthusiastically cheered the daring Tavanau. Attocknie, who witnessed the mounted display of

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