Quanah Parker, Last Chief of the Comanches

Quanah Parker, Last Chief of the Comanches

For three centuries the Comanches ruled as lords of the Southern Plains. With the coming of white settlers and the might of the US Army, the land was been rested from its Indian masters. The Comanches resented this appropriation of their ancestral home and say only one recourse, war. 

In 1836, during a Comanche raid on Fort Parker, Texas, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker was captured. She grew up among the Comanches, whom she learned to love dearly. Ultimately, she married famed Comanche chief Peta Nocona for whom she bore three children.



Who was Quanah Parker?


Quanah was born to the couple in 1845 and was the only one of the three children to survive. Sharp of mind and an intrepid warrior, Quanah emerged as a vigorous and enlightened protector of Comanche interest.

Quanah led Cheyennes, Arapahos, Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches in their last great surge against white encroachment known as Battle of Adobe Walls. A military strategist of the first order, he became one of the most feared Indians on the Southern Plains. But the white man was superior in weapons and numbers. The day came when Quanah knew that further resistance would only lead to annihilation of the Comanches. He counts this people to lay down their arms and to take the white men's rules.

On June 2nd, 1875, Quanah and his followers surrendered at Fort Sill. By an ironic twist of fate it was Quanah who led the Comanches in their final struggle against the encroachment of his mother's own people, the whites. And once the fighting was over it was he as last chief of the Comanches who would lead them up from the bitter ashes of defeat to walk the white man's road. Quanah dedicate himself to the strenuous task of guiding the Comanches into civilization. Courageous and strong-willed, he was also a natural diplomat. Traveling numerous times to Washington DC to represent the Comanches, he was a familiar figure in Congress. He became a successful farmer, a rancher, and a major stockholder in the Quanah, Acme & Pacific Railway. 

He had vital interest in educating the young people and became president of his local school board in 1905. On a road in Theodore Roosevelt inaugural parade, in a special report to the president it was stated of Quanah, "if ever nature stamped a man with the seal of headship, she did it in his case. Quanah would have been a leader and a governor in any circle where fate may have cast him." 

Where is Quanah Parker buried?


On December 4, 1910, Quanah had his mother's remains exhumed and reburied near his home where, as he said, "I might lie beside her". At Quanah's request, Congress erected a monument at her gravesite. 

Three months after her reburial, Chief Quanah died on February 23, 1911. Quanah, who was responsible for the Comanche's transition onto the white man's road and who perhaps did more than any other man to reconcile these two great races was mourned by Whites and Indians alike. Approximately 1,500 people formed a funeral procession over two miles long. 

Although his remarkable adaptation to white ways brought him honor and wealth, he never did forsake his Comanche heritage. He loved his culture, he was proud of it and strove to preserve it. When he was buried beside his white mother, he was in the full regalia of a Comanche chief.

Quanah had seven Comanche wives and begat 24 children. Every year, the descendants of Quanah and the Parker relatives of Texas gather to honor the memory of Cynthia Ann and a remarkable son, Quanah Parker, Last Chief of the Comanches.



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