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Quanah Parker Became a Famous Comanche Leader

The last surviving chief of the Quahada Comanche Indian tribe was Quanah Parker. He was born in 1845 in Elk Creek, near Wichita Mountain, in what is today known as Oklahoma City. He is known for his resistance against white settlement and for his leadership in helping his community adapt to life on the reservation.

Quanah Parker’s birth resulted from a conflict between Native Americans and white settlers. His mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, was captured when she was child and later converted to the Native American way of life. She met Quanah’s father, Chief Peta Nocona, whom she later married. They had three children: Quanah, Pecos, and Topsana. However, Quanah’s childhood was a nightmare where he endured a long battle with the Texas Rangers. As a result of the battle, both his mother and sister were taken against their will. After being held captive for more than twenty-four years, Cynthia refused to re-assimilate. She committed suicide in 1871 after losing her daughter a couple of years earlier due to illness, leaving Quanah and his brother as orphans.

The Comanche tribe was very disorganized during Chief Peta Nocona’s leadership, nevertheless, many feared them. In fact, the tribe was one of the first to obtain horses from the Spanish. The Comanche established themselves as expert riders and set the pattern for nomadic horse culture life, which became common among plain tribes in the 18th and 19th centuries. When Quanah became chief, the Comanche were in almost a constant state of war with Mexico, Texas, and other Native American tribes. Quanah Parker led the tribe in a very successful battle and many believed in him because he was the son of a respected leader.

Quanah was a man who bridged two worlds, living both as a warrior and pragmatic leader who wanted a better place of life for his people, and also being a rancher and investor. His life encouraged other half-Native Americans to learn about their white ancestry
and has inspired many other Native Americans to appreciate the story of their tribe.

[Source: Texas State Historical Association; U.S National Park Service; Oklahoma Historical Society]

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