The Comanche Indians, 1820-1861
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The Comanche Indians were the greatest retarding human factor in the occupation and settlement of the South Plains region. For a century and a half they challenged the right of white men to occupy their country, and only the forces of nature --the treeless and semi-arid prairies-- wrought more effectively in that respect than they. It is the purpose of this study to give an account of these Indians from about 1820 to 1861, the period during which the struggle for existence amidst the merciless encroachment of white men and more advanced Indians reduced them in numbers and destroyed much of their power of resistance. The work of confining them to a reservation and the actual settlement of their country came for the most part at a later period. Since the history of the Indians cannot be made intelligible without an account of the relations of the whites with them, the matter of Comanche relations has been given considerable attention; but I have tried to keep always in view the object of the work, which is to present the history of the Indians. The source material used has been written by white men; but some of it is represented to be the words of the Indians, and much of it, like the reports of Indian agents, has come from men who secured their information directly from the Indians or who might be expected to be fairer to the red men than the ordinary white man would be. Material of this kind has been given all the emphasis that its nature and importance would justify. The materials used are found for the most part in the Indian Papers and other official documents, both manuscript and printed, of the Republic and State of Texas, the University of Texas collection of photostat copies of Papers in the United States Indian office, and various printed documents of the United States Government. Newspaper files covering nearly all of the period have also been examined. At times the official documents have not been adequate and memoirs, reminiscences and various secondary sources have been relied upon. Since satisfactory understanding of the period chosen for special study cannot he had without some account of the Indians during the century of their relationship with the Spanish and French, I have spent considerable effort by way of constructing a summary of that period. For this part of the problem the entire collection of the Bexar Archives was examined, and a number of transcripts from the Archivo General at Mexico City were drawn upon, besides considerable printed documentary material.