By the early s the Comanche were very powerful, with a population estimated at from 7, to as many as 30, individuals. Their language, of the Northern branch of the Uto-Aztecan languages, became a lingua franca for much of the area.
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Like most other tribes of Plains Indians , the Comanche were organized into autonomous bands, local groups formed on the basis of kinship and other social relationships. The Comanche were one of the first tribes to acquire horses from the Spanish and one of the few to breed them to any extent. They also fought battles on horseback, a skill unknown among other Indian peoples. Highly skilled Comanche horsemen set the pattern of nomadic equestrian life that became characteristic of the Plains tribes in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Comanche raids for material goods, horses, and captives carried them as far south as Durango in present-day Mexico. One of the best-known Comanche leaders, Quanah Parker , belonged to the Quahadi band. In the midth century the Penateka, a southern band, were settled on a reservation in Indian Territory now Oklahoma.
The northern segment of the tribe, however, continued the struggle to protect their realm from settlers. In Col. In the Comanche and their allies the Kiowa signed a treaty with the United States , which granted them what is now western Oklahoma , from the Red River north to the Cimarron. Upon the failure of the United States to abide by the terms of the treaty, hostilities resumed until , when, in agreements made at Medicine Lodge Creek in Kansas , the Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa Apache undertook to settle on a reservation in Oklahoma.
The government was unable to keep squatters off the land promised to the tribes, and it was after this date that some of the most violent encounters between U. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions.
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Facts Matter. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Although they originated in the Great Basin, the Comanche acquired horses during the early colonial period, moved to present-day Texas, and became nomadic buffalo hunters; they are thus typically regarded as Plains Indians.
On May 12, , Capt. John S.
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In October brevet Maj. He later became the main spokesman and peacetime leader of the Native Americans in the region, a role he performed for 30…. Plains Wars, series of conflicts from the early s through the late s between Native Americans and the United States, along with its Indian allies, over control of the Great Plains between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. The initial major confrontation, sometimes known as the….
Quanah Parker, Comanche leader who, as the last chief of the Kwahadi Quahadi band, mounted an unsuccessful war against white expansion in northwestern Texas — Most of the Indians east of the Mississippi River now perceived the colonial pioneers as a greater threat than the British government.
Thus northern tribes, especially those influenced by Mohawk chief Thayendanegea Joseph Brant , generally sided with the Crown during the American War for Independence. Leger in upstate New York. Western Pennsylvania and New York became savage battlegrounds as the conflict spread to the Wyoming and Cherry valleys.
Strong American forces finally penetrated the heart of Iroquois territory, leaving a wide swath of destruction in their wake. The Americans resumed the initiative in , when Clark marched northwest into Shawnee and Delaware country, ransacking villages and inflicting several stinging defeats upon the Indians.
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To the south, the British backed resistance among the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Choctaws but quickly forgot their former allies following the signing of the Treaty of Paris By setting the boundaries of the newly recognized United States at the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, that treaty virtually ensured future conflicts between whites and resident tribes.
Arthur St. Yet resistance to white expansion in the Old Northwest continued as a Shawnee chief, Tecumseh , molded a large Indian confederation based at Prophetstown. While Tecumseh was away seeking additional support, William Henry Harrison burned the village after a stalemate at the Battle of Tippecanoe in Indian raids, often encouraged by the British, were influential in causing the United States to declare war on Great Britain in Several hundred American prisoners were killed following a skirmish at the River Raisin in early But Harrison pushed into Canada and won the Battle of the Thames, which saw the death of Tecumseh and the collapse of his confederation.
In the Southeast, the Creeks gained a major triumph against American forces at Fort Sims, killing many of their prisoners in the process. Andrew Jackson led the counterthrust, winning victories at Tallasahatchee and Talladega before crushing the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend in Alaska and Florida were also the scenes of bitter conflicts.
Native peoples strongly contested the Russian occupation of Alaska. The Aleuts were defeated during the eighteenth century, but the Russians found it impossible to prevent Tlingit harassment of their hunting parties and trading posts. But the Seminole Indians and runaway slaves refused to relocate, and the Second Seminole War saw fierce guerrilla-style actions from to Osceola, perhaps the greatest Seminole leader, was captured during peace talks in , and nearly three thousand Seminoles were eventually removed.
The Third Seminole War stamped out all but a handful of the remaining members of the tribe.
In the United States, the removal policy met only sporadic armed resistance as whites pushed into the Mississippi River valley during the s and s. The acquisition of Texas and the Southwest during the s, however, sparked a new series of Indian-white conflicts. On the Pacific Coast, attacks against the native peoples accompanied the flood of immigrants to gold-laden California. Disease, malnutrition, and warfare combined with the poor lands set aside as reservations to reduce the Indian population of that state from , in to 35, in The army took the lead role in Oregon and Washington, using the Rogue River , Yakima , and Spokane wars to force several tribes onto reservations.
Sporadic conflicts also plagued Arizona and New Mexico throughout the s as the army struggled to establish its presence. On the southern plains, mounted warriors posed an even more formidable challenge to white expansion. Strikes against the Sioux, Cheyennes, Arapahos, Comanches, and Kiowas during the decade only hinted at the deadlier conflicts of years to come.
The Civil War saw the removal of the Regulars and an accompanying increase in the number and intensity of white-Indian conflicts. James H.
Native American Leaders of the Wild West
Disputes on the southern plains culminated in the Sand Creek massacre , during which John M. In Minnesota , attacks by the Eastern Sioux prompted counterattacks by the volunteer forces of Henry H. Sibley, after which the tribes were removed to the Dakotas. The conflict became general when John Pope mounted a series of unsuccessful expeditions onto the plains in Regular units, including four regiments of black troops, returned west following the Confederate collapse.
Railroad expansion, new mining ventures, the destruction of the buffalo, and ever-increasing white demand for land exacerbated the centuries-old tensions. The mounted warriors of the Great Plains posed an especially thorny problem for an army plagued by a chronic shortage of cavalry and a government policy that demanded Indian removal on the cheap.
Winfield S. Using a series of converging columns, Philip Sheridan achieved more success in his winter campaigns of , but only with the Red River War of were the tribes broken. But arable lands and rumors of gold in the Dakotas continued to attract white migration; the government opened a major new war in A series of army columns took the field that fall and again the following spring.
By campaigning through much of the winter, harassing Indian villages, and winning battles like that at Wolf Mountain , Nelson A. Miles proved particularly effective. Another outbreak among the Sioux and Northern Cheyennes, precipitated by government corruption, shrinking reservations, and the spread of the Ghost Dance, culminated in a grisly encounter at Wounded Knee , in which casualties totaled over two hundred Indians and sixty-four soldiers.
Less spectacular but equally deadly were conflicts in the Pacific Northwest. In a desperate effort to secure a new reservation on the tribal homelands, a Modoc chief assassinated Edward R. Canby during an abortive peace conference in Also unsuccessful was armed resistance among the Bannocks, Paiutes, Sheepeaters, and Utes in To the far southwest, Cochise , Victorio, and Geronimo led various Apache bands in resisting white and Hispanic encroachments, crossing and recrossing the border into Mexico with seeming impunity.
Only after lengthy campaigning, during which army columns frequently entered Mexico, were the Apaches forced to surrender in the mids. The army remained wary of potential trouble as incidental violence continued.