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Once the buffalo hides had been cleaned and stripped, and dried in the sun, the thick hair was stripped off and the hides were made supple through a process of soaking, and rubbing with various substances. They were then smoked over a fire to give them their color.
Each tipi had a hole dug in the center for a fire both for warmth and for cooking in bad or cold weather. During hot days the hides could be rolled up from the bottom to allow more air flow. The tipi was extremely useful, practical, and mobile for the Comanche since they moved around. It is said that the women, working in groups, could set them up or take them down very quickly. The entire Comanche band could be packed and on a buffalo hunt within fifteen minutes.
Comanche clothing was simple and easy to wear. Men wore a leather belt with a breechclout -- a long piece of buckskin that was brought up between the legs and looped over and under the belt at the front and back. Loose-fitting deerskin leggings were worn down to the moccasins, and tied to the belt. The moccasins had soles made from thick, tough buffalo hide with soft deerskin uppers. The Comanche men wore nothing on the upper body except in the winter, when they wore warm, heavy robes made from buffalo hides (or occasionally, bear, wolf, or coyote skins) with knee-length buffalo-hide boots (Koch 1990).
Comanche women wore long deerskin dresses. The dresses had a flared skirt and wide, long sleeves, and were trimmed with buckskin fringes along the sleeves and hem. Beads and pieces of metal were attached in geometric patterns. Comanche women wore buckskin moccasins with buffalo soles. In the winter they, too, wore warm buffalo robes and tall, fur-lined buffalo-hide boots (Koch 1990).
Famous Comanche Chiefs
Quanah Parker was the most well-known and historically famous of all the Comanche chiefs.
He was born around 1850 at Cedar Lake, Texas, the son of a captured white woman, Cynthia Parker, and the son of a Comanche chief. In 1867 the Kwahadi Comanche selected him as their war chief. From 1867 -- 1875, Parker led an alliance of tribes on raids against towns in Texas.
Actually, most of what we know about him is found in Army records after he was captured in 1875. It was during this period after his capture that he distinguished himself as a great Comanche leader as well as an astute businessman.
He learned both Spanish and English, helped the reservation Comanche to use the white man's agricultural process, and was instrumental in pushing the importance of an education for the Indians.
He himself prospered as both a farmer and the managing agent for business deals between whites and Indian tribes -- he was reputed in later years to be the wealthiest Native American in North America -- but he also created wealth for fellow Indians by getting them to lease surplus tribal lands to white cattlemen (Hagan 1995).
In 1886 he became a judge of the Court of Indian Affairs; by 1890 he was principal chief of all Comanche bands; he was also a major figure in the peyote religion. He rode beside Geronimo in the inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt in1905 (Hagan 1995).
Members of the Comanche Nation live in Oklahoma and Texas. The tribal headquarters is located near Lawton, Oklahoma. A large number of Comanche live in and around Los Angeles, and some in New Mexico. There are approximately eleven thousand Comanche living in the U.S.
In 1901, the U.S. government gave each Comanche family 160-acre plots of land on their former reservation. Eventually, white settlers bought land there too. As a result, the Comanche now reside in well-populated areas among non-Indians (De Capua 2006).
They still practice many of their traditions and maintain their language and identity. But, they also live in the modern world. The Comanche of today do consider themselves as Americans, though they continue to remember and be proud of their Indian heritage.
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