Quanah Parker

Luke Clayton

 For the past couple of decades, my friend Randy Routh has been telling me about the White Ranch where he has been hunting since the 1990s. Randy and several of his friends help the White family work cattle on the ranch and through the years, the group has set up a nice little hunting camp on the property.

Many youngsters have been introduced to the outdoor lifestyle thanks to these veteran outdoorsmen. In essence, the hunters trade their skills and labor working on the ranch for hunting rights, but it’s easy to see the relationship between hunter and landowners go much farther than this.

After spending a couple of days hunting turkey with Routh on the ranch, it was clearly obvious to me that all these folks have become very close through the years.

Talking with Philipp Meyer

Apr 20, 2016
Alex Hunt

AH – For Radio Readers Book Club, I’m Alex Hunt, Professor of English at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.  Today, I’m speaking with novelist Philipp Meyer. In The Son, an important part of the novel occurs on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle and clearly draws on some legendary types – the cattleman Charles Goodnight and the Comanche leader Quanah Parker. Can you talk about your decision to write about this place and these figures?

Last Buffalo Hunt

Mar 17, 2016
en.wikipedia.org

Hello, Radio Readers! We’re reading and discussing a High Plains sense of place with Sam Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, a social history, as Gwynne writes, of “the rise and fall of the Comanche. “ After thirty-some years, the Comanche capitulated to the US, surrendering horses and weapons in exchange for life on a reservation. There, Gwynne writes, “everything that defined Comanche existence” was exchanged for “crude squalor….hunger and desperation and dependency” – benefits promised to the Comanche turned out to be insufficient, paltry, and shoddy. Gwynne suggests that those who adopted and adapted to white ways did so to survive, even as they tried to preserve their culture, however vestigially.

Nautdah or Cynthia

Mar 8, 2016
texastrailoffame.org

Hello, HPPR Radio Readers!

Midway through “Empire of the Summer Moon,” we return to Cynthia Ann Parker’s story.  Parker was nine years old when captured during a Comanche raid. For decades, her family had searched for her. Sound familiar? perhaps you’ve read Alan LeMay’s novel or seen John Ford’s film The Searchers. In both, once found by her kin, happiness follows.

Of course, real life isn’t like the movies. In fact, Parker wasn’t found until 24 years later, during the winter of 1860.  Texas Rangers were about to kill a survivor of their raid on a Comanche camp, when someone noticed her blonde hair and blue eyes , and putting aside his weapons, concluded he had just rescued the long-lost Cynthia Ann Parker.  After questioning and dressed in Texan clothing, she was returned to her Parker kin, none of whom spoke Comanche or Spanish, two languages with which Cynthia Ann was fluent.  She did learn or recall some English, but she continued to speak and sing in Comanche. She seemed not to think of herself as Cynthia Ann but as Nautdah. Worse, she seemed not to see herself as “rescued” or “saved” but as “captured” and “lost,” so much so that she had to be closely watched or locked up to prevent her from running away. This, especially, in Gwynne’s account, the Parkers did not understand.  Pulled back  to a culture not valuing pluralism, pulled back to a world Gwynne characterizes as “taffeta chairs in drawing rooms on the outer edges of the Industrial Revolution,” Nautdah was left to herself. Once she’d been moved to eastern Texas, according to Gwynne, she quit her escape attempts, dying not long after, most believed, of a broken heart.

Kansas Memory

For me, history depicted in Empire of the Summer Moon is among the saddest in America. Though I didn’t expect a different outcome, the story isn’t easier to accept. Author S.C. Gwynne provides ample background about the geography, sociology, and history of a cultural collision that rocked this region for decades. Even today, we deal with ripple effects Frederick Jackson Turner might attribute to his Frontier thesis, explaining these incidents made our nation what it is.

Initial chapters establish the difficulties of life beyond the 98th meridian where forested land turns to prairie unprotected from searing summer winds and blue northers that dramatically alter landscapes within minutes. Gwynne knows it’s critical for the reader to understand that in any story about the Great Plains, landscape and weather function as antagonists capable of destroying the unprepared.

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.”

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.