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Quanah Parker: Last Chief to the Comanche

Phyllis has a strong affinity for Native American traditions, beliefs, and spirituality.

Quanah Parker in Lawton, Oklahoma. Date and photographer unknown. He is shown here wearing a headdress on horseback.

Quanah Parker in Lawton, Oklahoma. Date and photographer unknown. He is shown here wearing a headdress on horseback.

Eagle of the Comanche

Quanah Parker was the last chief of the Comanche. He was known by his people as "The Eagle of The Comanches". He earned this title from his early show of prowess and the powerful Eagle Dance for young warriors. Through the Eagle Dance came the source of a young boy's power by vision. Although the Eagle Dance was significant to Quanah's spiritual power and vision, his true power and medicine came from the Bear.

By the age of fifteen, Quanah was already a recognized and respected warrior. During his years as a Chief, he never lost a battle to white men. In full war dress he wore a necklace of bear claws. Quanah said, "Sometimes a Comanche man dreams, and a big bear comes and tells him you do this - you paint your face this way. I help you, if he sees bear in his dreams then he makes medicine that way." ("Medicine" means that which one's source of power comes from.)

Quanah was not only a fearsome, undefeated warrior chief, but a man of great intelligence. When he realized that to continue fighting the white man meant certain starvation and death for all his people, he became a bridge to the new world and helped his people adjust to a new way of life.

I have seen him shrinking from civilized approach, which came with all its vices, like the dead of night upon him. I have seen him gaze and then retreat like the frightened deer ... seen him shrinking from the soil and haunts of his boyhood, bursting the strongest ties which bound him to the earth and its pleasures.

— George Catlin, 1796 - 1872

Quanah Parker, circa 1890. He lived from 1845 to 1911.

Quanah Parker, circa 1890. He lived from 1845 to 1911.

Warrior of Fierce Passion and Prowess

Quanah was born sometime around 1850 to Peta Nocona, Quahada Comanche Chief, and Cynthia Ann Parker. Cynthia Ann, a white woman, was captured by the Comanches from Parker's Fort in 1836. She was only nine years old at the time. The Comanche family who adopted and raised her truly learned to love her and treated her kindly, as their own daughter. She eventually became, in her own heart, a Comanche.

Peta and Cynthia Ann had three children, Quanah was the first, one other son and a girl, Prairie Flower (Topsanna). Despite numerous attempts to rescue her by her family and soldiers over the years, Cynthia Ann refused to leave her Comanche family. The Comanche would accept no bribe or payment for her, regardless of how much.

In December of 1860, when Quanah was about ten years old, Cynthia Ann was recaptured during an attack by the army on a camp of mostly women and children who were keeping supplies of food and other needs for their warriors who were out hunting. She was allowed to keep her baby daughter with her, but never saw her beloved husband, Peta, or her sons again.

Numerous attempts on her part to escape and return to her Comanche family failed and she died at the age of forty-nine, with a broken heart and spirit, just a short while after she lost her daughter to smallpox. Peta and Cynthia Ann died within a few months of each other, not knowing what had happened to the other.

Cynthia Ann Parker and her baby, Prairie Flower

Cynthia Ann Parker and her baby, Prairie Flower

Fiercest Warrior

Cynthia Ann may not have even known that her eldest son had become the fiercest warrior and strong leader of the Comanche.

Quanah grew to become a warrior that led his people with fierce passion and prowess. His daring bravery was well known to the Europeans and especially to the soldiers who tried in vain to capture him and his people. It was imperative to Quanah that his horses were as brave and fierce as he was. It would do no good to have a timid or untrained horse in battle. Quanah chose his horses with care and trained them well.

The Quahada band of Comanche were fierce and cunning warriors. Their manner of dress during battle and their war cries struck terror and awe in anyone who had the chance to see them and live to remember. Even their highly trained horses were painted and decorated for battle in majestic and awe-inspiring manner.

The Quahada were well-trained and expert horsemen and warriors. Under the leadership of Quanah, they never lost a battle. Only when it came down to certain death for his people and the possible annihilation of the Comanche, did Quanah stop and reconsider the warrior's path.

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Survival in a new Culture

Quanah was able to bridge the barrier between his people's culture and way of life and lead them across the bridge to survival in the white man's culture and world. He could have stayed on the warpath and fought to his death, but he knew his people would not survive the onslaught of a force that grew more powerful every day. He chose to lead his people to a new way of life rather than see them die from starvation and a losing battle that would leave them all dead or helpless.

Since Quanah's death, there have been no Comanche chiefs. Tribal leaders carry the title of Chairman. Quanah, truly the Last Chief of the Comanches, through his intelligence and will to keep his people alive, saved the Comanche from certain annihilation. Throughout his life, Quanah never lost touch with his Comanche birthright and remained Comanche to the last.

The Comanche were a beautiful and imposing race, able to strike fear and awe in everyone. Pictures of the Comanche people in Quanah's time show the strength, beauty and pride of these proud and noble people. It is not surprising that Cynthia Ann fell in love with them and held them dear in her heart.

They were an uncommon fine looking men and women, some of them exhibiting the most perfect symmetry united with a muscular and athletic frame; the countenances strongly marked, indicative of intelligence and generosity; while that of others bespeak the wily knave, and cunning lurks in every feature.

— Colonel Edward Stiff, ca. 1830s

Quanah in business attire in 1890.

Quanah in business attire in 1890.

Return of Mother and Death of Quanah

On October 24, 1910, Quanah gave a speech to a vast Texas crowd at the State Fair who had come from all over the nation to pay homage to "The Last Comanche Chief". He was a guest of honor and appeared in full war dress in a parade. He struck such an imposing and impressive image that people respected and honored him for who he was.

Quanah never forgot his mother. In his speech at the Texas State Fair, he told of how he was trying to get permission from the government to have his mother's remains moved to the cemetery on his own land, where his son was buried and where he himself would one day rest. In December of the same year, Quanah was able to have his mother returned to him forty years after her death and had her reburied near his home.

At her funeral service, Quanah spoke of how his mother was captured by the Comanche and how she grew to love the people and never wanted to return to her white family. "All same people anyway, God say. I love my mother," Quanah said. This brave warrior, who never lost a battle, who had been fierce and feared by all in the past, stood in front of thousands of people with tears rolling down his cheeks.

Just two months later, Quanah was laid to rest beside his beloved mother, the inscription on Quanah's tombstone reads:

Quanah Parker

Resting Here Until Day Breaks

And Shadows Fall and Darkness Disappears

is Quanah Parker

Last Chief of the Comanches

Born 1852

Died Feb. 23, 1911

Quanah Parker's Grave Site

Gravestone of Quanah Parker located at Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Gravestone of Quanah Parker located at Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Last Comanche Chief

A fascinating book to read and gather more information about Quanah Parker and the Comanche tribe was written by Bill Neeley. In The Last Comanche Chief: The Life and Times of Quanah Parker, Neeley portrays the life and times of Quanah beautifully

Neeley's book covers a span of over a century of the culture and way of life of the Comanche, their relationship with the Apache, Utes, Kiowas, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Pawnees, the early Spanish invaders, the U.S. Calvary, the Texas Rangers and the ever-increasing encroachment of white settlers.

Neeley's book has an abundance of facts and stories that will thrill the serious historian as well as those interested in Native American culture and history.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Phyllis Doyle Burns


Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 26, 2013:

Tim, I so appreciate your visit and comment. I, too, feel a tear forming every time I read Quanah's speech and the words about his mother. The man was a brave, unconquered and fierce warrior, yet had a heart filled with love. I am glad you see this hub as a learning experience, for that is my aim when writing about Native Americans and their stories. This gives me great encouragement, so I thank you.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 26, 2013:

Peg, thank you so much for the visit and comment, I so appreciate it and the votes/sharing. Quanah Parker quickly became one of my favorite historical people once I began reading and researching about him. Thanks again, Peg, and have a great day.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on July 26, 2013:

Very well presented Phyllis and complimented nicely too with imagery. I was led along a path of diversity meeting change as qualities like courage, encouragement, and fortitude grew. Near the end a tear seemed close with an empathetic perspective of one of his last quests as a warrior Chief of the Comanche. Thank you for this opportunity for learning.


Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 26, 2013:

Fascinating story here with awesome pictures. I loved learning about the Last Chief to the Comanche, Quanah Parker and his family and you've told this story so well. Voted way up and shared.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 09, 2013:

Writer Fox, thank you so much for reading and commenting on my hub. Quanah Parker's life story fascinates me, too. He was a remarkable and very intelligent man. I knew about Quanah, Texas and how Quanah left a lasting legacy. Thank you for the vote and visit. It is much appreciated. I would like to learn more about the history of Texas and how Quanah had a part of it. Maybe you can write a hub on that ? I would love to read it. I know there are descendants of Quanah Parker there and they are still cattle ranchers.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on July 09, 2013:

Quanah Parker's life is a fascinating story. He is a famous part of Texas history and there is a town named after him: Quanah, Texas. Enjoyed and voted up!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 19, 2013:

Thank you, Brownella, for the visit and comments, it is much appreciated. Native American history is one of my greatest passions and I love to write about historical figures. Quanah just captured my heart, as did his mother also.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 19, 2013:

Angelo, I so appreciate your visit and comments. It is so true that early Hollywood did not portray the American Indian in proper ways -- the truths have been known to very few till people began researching and writing about the individuals. Quanah was a fascinating and very intelligent man who gave up his way of life to save his people. He was remarkable. Thank you so much for stopping by, Angelo.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 19, 2013:

ladeydeonne, thank you so much for the visit and comments. I, too, love history and historical figures. November is set aside to honor the Alaskan and Native American Heritage, which I think is very much appreciated by many. The stories of Quanah and his mother, Cynthia Ann, are very interesting and very touching. The Comanche were a proud and passionate race of people -- some call them "children of the wind". I so hope you read more of my Native American hubs. Thanks again for stopping by.

brownella from New England on June 19, 2013:

Great hub, I am ashamed to admit how little Native American history I know. This was a fascinating read, can't wait to learn more by reading about his mother. Thanks :)

Angelo52 on June 19, 2013:

Wonderful read. This article shows the Comanche for what they really were via this one Warrior Chief instead of the parody of the natives that early Hollywood made of them. Thumbs up and shared.

Deonne Anderson from Florence, SC on June 19, 2013:

I am thrilled that I got to read this hub about the last Indian chief, Quanah Parker. The story about his mother, Cynthia Ann, is a very touching one. Th history of The American Indian is very interesting. I would like to read more. I propose that we have an American Indian Month so that we can all celebrate their culture and and learn more about them as a proud people. I shall read more of your hubs and recommended reading. I love History.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 18, 2013:

Thank you very much, midget38. I appreciate your visit and comment.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on June 18, 2013:

I have always admired the bold resoluteness of Indian chiefs, and this is a unique and wonderful hub! Thanks for sharing, Phyllis!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 18, 2013:

Rajan, I am so glad you liked reading about Quanah Parker. Although a fierce warrior and feared by all, he was a man who greatly loved his family. I love researching on historical people, especially Native Americans -- and yes, it does rather take me back in time.

Thank you so much for the visit and comments, Rajan, I greatly appreciate it.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 18, 2013:

Hi Nell. Thank you for reading about Quanah and for your comments. You can read more about Quanah's mother in my hub: Cynthia Ann Parker - Comanche Heart and Broken Spirit.

Both Quanah and Cynthia Ann just really touched my heart when I did research on them. I can understand why Cynthia's white family wanted to keep her after missing her all those years, but the kindest thing to do for her would have been to return her to Peta and her sons once they saw how sad she was. Yes, Quanah was a very amazing man.

Thank you so much, Nell. I always so appreciate your visits.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 18, 2013:

It was great reading about the life of Quanah Parker and it is always interesting to sort of go back in time.

The chief appears to be a loving man despite being an exceptional warrior

Voted up and interesting.

Nell Rose from England on June 18, 2013:

I loved this phyllis, it was told in such a way that I was hooked from the start. What an amazing man, to be able to see the point of giving way and leading his people to join the 'white man'. He could have kept fighting, but he knew that wasn't the way to go. It was such a shame about his mother, they should have let her stay with her new family, so cruel, and yet typical of the time, wonderful!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 18, 2013:

tillsontitan, how nice to see you visit and comment. This is much appreciated by me. Thank you so much for your kind words and comments. When I hear that readers appreciate what I try to do by writing on the history of Native Americans, it really makes me realize how important it is to make known the real stories of real people. Yes, Quanah was so dedicated to his people -- and the tears he shed when asking for the return of his mother really touched my heart, as if I was standing there watching him. That man, who was once fierce and courageous in battle, was not ashamed to let the tears flow in front of thousands of people. I mean that tells us what a kind, good heart he had. I so appreciate your compliments on my efforts, thank you so very much.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 18, 2013:

MizBejabbers, I will search for that story of the Comanche and the German troop. I would like to get more information on that, too. I do believe that our forefathers did base our democracy on the Cherokee way. The Cherokee were one of the Five Civilized Tribes and had a great system of democracy. I also know that our military leaders, back in the early days of wars when settling the country, turned to the the Iroquois to learn strategic battle plans and maneuvers. The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse"), were very well organized in battle. I am in agreement with you, that our Native American people never cease to amaze me. The more I research and write about them, the more I admire the ancestors and their way of life. Thank you so much for your visit, and I hope you come back often.

Mary Craig from New York on June 18, 2013:

It is so refreshing that the truth is being told! You have done a wonderful job of putting an entire lifetime into one short hub. From your descriptions Quanah sounds like a wonderful man. Totally dedicated to his family and his people.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 18, 2013:

Oh, gosh, I wish you could find that story of the Commanche who captured the German troop, Phyllis. I would love to read it. And I will look for the book you recommended. I saw a something recently that said that our forefathers, namely Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, based the government of this country on the democracy of the Cherokees. Europeans had never heard of democracy. It was either a video documentary or the History Channel. Our Native American ancestors never cease to amaze me!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 17, 2013:

Yes, Marie -- the Native American Code Talkers did much to help in World War I and II. The Navajo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakota, Meskwaki, and Comanche soldiers were very dedicated and did their job well. there were 400-500 Native Americans in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was the transmission of secret tactical messages. Code talkers transmitted these messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formal or informally developed codes built upon their native languages. Their service improved communications in terms of speed of encryption at both ends in front line operations during World War II.

I also read a story, long ago, about a Comanche soldier who captured an entire German troop by himself. He had come upon them, stalked them, the let out a fierce and frightening Comanche war cry! It scared the German soldiers so badly that they became totally disorganized. I wish I could find that story again.

Thank you, Marie, for your visit and comments.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 17, 2013:

MizBejabbers, thank you again for visiting my site and reading about Quanah. I really think you would enjoy Neeley's book on the Life and Times of Quanah Parker. It is a remarkably well researched book and I was fascinated with Quanah's life story. Thank you again for the comments and votes.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on June 17, 2013:

I'd like to add that Native American soldiers were integral during World War II. The enemy could not decode their language!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 17, 2013:

I was so happy to read your hub on Quanah Parker and the history of his parents. Their separation by the white people was dispicable. I recently watched a documentary on Quanah that expounded on his heroism, but I don't think it said anything about his parents. I am so thankful that the truth about Native Americans is coming out. Thanks for bringing that out. Voted up+++.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 17, 2013:

krillco, I tend to agree with you. Thank you so much for the visit.

William E Krill Jr from Hollidaysburg, PA on June 17, 2013:

Some of the most important American heroes are Natives. Thank you.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 17, 2013:

Mahalo nui loa, Joe, you are very kind and your comments have really made my day start out beautifully. I began to see the importance of being a part of telling truths about the Native Americans many years ago. I always had admiration and a strong affinity to indigenous peoples of the Americas. I hope you read Neely's book, The Last Comanche Chief -- there is so much more that Quanah did to not only help his own people, but to contribute greatly to the development of cattle ranching.Quanah's Star Ranch home is still in remarkable condition and on the list of Historical Places. His descendants are still in the same area where Quanah built up his ranch and are still in cattle ranching. Quanah was a remarkable business man and a very interesting person. He was very business savvy. I think books like Neely's should be part of the educational curriculum, for Native Americans were a very important part of America's history.

Thanks again, Joe, for the visit and comments -- it is much appreciated.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on June 17, 2013:

This is a most interesting and informative read. I grew up in an era when history books were filled with a one-sided presentation of how this country was discovered, built up, and governed. But there was little that addressed the reality of its indigenous people, and usually that was delivered in a biased form. It's therefore in an invaluable niche that you've developed here. Thank you so very much for sharing. Aloha, Phyllis!


Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 16, 2013:

Many blessings to you, Marie. Thank you so much for the visit and comments. You are very kind. One of these days, I will write something on mythology -- when I get started in Native American history, I get rather accustomed to it and find it hard to leave.

I agree with you, when "The Last...." is in a title, it is appealing and draws me in. Have a great evening, Marie, and thanks again.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on June 16, 2013:

You have me hooked, Phyllis! Not only are you hubs interesting because of subject matter, but your layout and photo choices are great, too.

"The Last . . ." always carries a certain feeling of longing in a title. I think of "The Last of the Mohicans" and "The Last Princess of Hawaii." Your suggestions and copyright at the end of the hub are impressive and a good idea. (I haven't reached that stage yet.) Blessings!

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