High Plains Public Radio


This is a contradictory land

Mar 2, 2016

HPPR Radio Readers are talking about books that explore life on the High Plains.  Kent Haruf’s novel, Plainsong, gave us opportunities to consider the good, the bad, and the ugly in our small, often isolated, towns.

Our current book, SC Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, considers our Western heritage, as fought in the 1800s on the high plains of central and west Texas.  When settlers moved in, fencing and cultivating land that had always been open and without borders, the Comanche attacked.

Karen Madorin

Lex Nichols:

I was born and raised in Rocky Ford on the Arkansas River.  My dad still has a farm there.  Part of the Cherokee Trail ran through there up to Pueblo, Fountain and I believe it went on up and hooked to the Overland Trail that went up to Wyoming. My father has been working the field and plowed up some “mitades” and so we know that they stayed there. When I do recordings, I record my bird sounds and use them in my recordings, I try to do everything natural.

Jonathan Baker

I’m a writer in Canyon, Texas, and I’ve been asked to talk a little about this month’s Book Club Read, Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne. I love this book, because it paints such an unflinching picture of the staggering beauty and brutal reality of my homeland.

The High Plains is perhaps the greatest grassland in the world. It’s hopelessly wide and unnervingly flat. And until somewhat recently, it was uninhabitable. But with the introduction of the horse to the plains, something remarkable happened. The confluence of the Comanche, the horse, and these limitless grasslands led to the rise of one of the most powerful mounted forces the world has ever known. If you were to invent the ideal denizen of the High Plains, you couldn’t do much better than the Comanche. Their very natures echoed this place in countless ways.

Darren Braun / Texas Monthly

This month Texas Monthly published a brief feature on the Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s headdress. The most well-known of the Comanche, Quanah’s name is still spoken with reverence in West Texas. He died in 1911, but the headdress he wore is now in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, in Canyon, Texas.

The headdress is “a magnificent assemblage of 62 golden eagle feathers, each trimmed at the top with red turkey or rooster hackles and horsehair.”

Public Domain

In this age of chain restaurants and big box stores, the Dodge City Daily Globe has published an important reminder about the first people who lived in the Dodge City Area. These people did not live in cities or towns. Instead they moved in camps as they followed the Buffalo across the plains. The Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche and Arapaho, were nomadic, and they used the buffalo for virtually all of their needs, including food, shelter, and tools. The slaughter of the buffalo was no accident.

Daniel P. Sink of Vernon, Texas / Public Domain

According to historian Barry Scobee, Comanche Chief Quanah Parker once appeared in Big Bend seeking peyote. Glenn’s Texas History Blog reports that Parker arrived at the Lempert Hotel in Fort Davis in the waning years of the 19th century in search of the hallucinogenic cactus. It’s unclear when the Comanche first began using peyote in their shamanistic ceremonies, but anthropologist Omar C.

Carol Campbell

A giant steel Comanche arrow lands at the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center west of Amarillo on Saturday morning.

The large sculpture is part of a larger project in which identical arrows have already been planted at various historical sites throughout the Texas Panhandle region. The arrows and their locations represent the historical range and serve as a physical reminder of the nomadic Comanches of the 19th century.