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Comanche

How do you pronounce the word "Comanche"? What does it mean?

It's pronounced "kuh-MAN-chee." It means "enemy" in the language of their Ute neighbors. In their own language, the Comanches call themselves Numinu (the people.)

Where do the Comanches live?

The Comanche Indians were once part of the northern Shoshone tribe of Wyoming, but split off from them and migrated to Texas, Oklahoma, and and New Mexico. Most Comanche people today live in Oklahoma.

What language do the Comanche Indians speak?

The Comanche people speak English today. Some Comanches, mostly elders, also speak their native Comanche language.If you'd like to know a few easy Comanche words, "maruawe" (pronounced mah-ruh-ah-way) is a friendly greeting, and "ura" (pronounced ur-ah) means "thank you."

How do Comanche Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?

They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Comanche children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play. Here is a picture of a hoop game played by Plains Indian kids. Once the Comanches acquired horses, girls and boys as young as five years old learned how to ride.

A Comanche mother traditionally carried a young child in a cradleboard on her back--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were men and women's roles in the Comanche tribe?


Comanche women were in charge of the home. Besides cooking and cleaning, a Comanche woman built her family's house and dragged the heavy posts with her whenever the tribe moved. Houses belonged to the women in the Comanche tribe. Comanche men were hunters and sometimes went to war to defend their families. Nearly all Comanche chiefs and warriors were men. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.

What were Comanche homes like in the past?

The Comanches lived in buffalo-hide houses called tipis (or teepees). Since the Comanches moved frequently to follow the buffalo herds, a tipi was carefully designed to set up and break down quickly, like a modern tent. An entire Comanche village could be packed up and ready to move within an hour.

What was Comanche clothing like? Did the Comanches wear feather headdresses and face paint?

Comanche women wore long deerskin dresses, and the men wore buckskin war shirts and breechcloths with leather leggings. The Comanches wore moccasins on their feet, and in cold weather, they wore long buffalo-hide robes. A Comanche lady's dress or warrior's shirt was fringed and painted with tribal designs.

The traditional style of Comanche headdress was a cap with eagle feathers and ermine tails trailing behind it. In the 1800's, though, some Comanche Indian men preferred to wear the long warbonnets of the northern Plains tribes. Traditionally, Comanche people only cut their hair when they were in mourning. Comanche men usually wore their hair in two braids, which they sometimes wrapped in fur. Comanche women usually wore their hair loose, and sometimes painted the center part red. The Comanches also painted their faces for special occasions.  Both men and women sometimes wore tribal tattoos on their chests.

What was Comanche transportation like in the days before cars?


Comanche Indians weren't coastal people, and rarely traveled by river. Originally they just walked. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe, so the Comanches used dogs pulling travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings. Once Europeans brought horses to America, the Comanches quickly became known as expert riders and could travel much more quickly than before.

What was Comanche food like in the days before supermarkets?


The Comanche staple food was buffalo. Comanche men usually hunted the buffalo by driving them off cliffs or stalking them with bow and arrow. As they acquired horses, the Comanche tribe began to pursue the buffalo herds for communal hunts, moving their villages often as the buffalo migrated. In addition to buffalo meat, the Comanche Indians ate small game like rabbits, nuts and berries, and wild potatoes.

What were Comanche weapons and tools like in the past?

Comanche hunters used bows and arrows. In war, Comanche men fired their bows or fought with long spears and buffalo-hide shields.

What are Comanche arts and crafts like?

Comanche artists are famous for their silver and copper jewelry and fine beadwork.

What kinds of stories do the Comanches tell?

There are lots of traditional Comanche legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Comanche Indian culture.