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Bad Eagle Journal

Comanches, Yesterday and Today

by David Yeagley · July 8, 2010 · 56 Comments ·

There are none who dispute that the Comanches were once the most terrifying horde of human beings ever to evolve. Of course, Comanches never saw it that way. They didn’t look for such evaluation.

Timber Bluff, 1872.

Comanches didn’t care what anyone thought about them. They were only concerned that other people, Indian, white, or Mexican, stay out of their territory. Comanches were content with themselves. They needed no social contact with others. They didn’t want any. They were utterly solipsistic.

There are few people in the world that can understand this. Perhaps none today, except some remote tribe in the rain forests who have hidden themselves away.

But the Comanche days of hiding were over. After they saw the horse, they came out into the open, and world was forever changed. Comanches were first noticed by others when they came down from the Southern Rockies onto the plains of southestern Colorado and eastern New Mexico. No one really knows where they came from. (I say the Wind, or Ghengis Kahn.) When once they appeared, they took everything in sight, by force. The horses, the land, the game. No other people were welcomed by them. Instead, the Comanche drove everyone else away, first Indian, then Spanish (Mexican), and they kept the white out for the better part of a century.

After Comanches discovered the musteños (mustangs), their soul mate of the wind, they expanded their hunting empire to the largest of its kind in the history of the American continent. After kicking everyone else out, Comanches creating a kind of private paradise for themselves. It included southestern Colorado, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and most of Texas. And during all this expansion period, Comanches never number more than ten to twelve thousand.

How did it happen? Efficiency of lethal arms, on the back of a horse. The early European reports said, unlike others, who merely rode the horse, Comanche lived on the horse. They were always in motion, always hunting.

And always raiding. That was the adjunct activity for Comanche bands who wanted a quick fix. The risks may have seem higher, but, the rewards were immediate and well worth it. The Comanche reputation for being blood thirsty, irascible, and vicious surely came from the survivors of raids.

Bullies? Thugs? The bad a– of the plains? Maybe. “Lords of the plains” would be perhaps a more flattering term, if Comanches cared about such things, then, anyway. Among Comanche there was no central government, no single chief, ever, and no seasonal ceremonial gatherings. Comanches seemed without religion, really, or any basic kind of social structure beyond the small “gang.” Spirituality was entirely personal, and the Collective Conscious operated on the quintessence of pragmatism. The people needed no guidance, nor looked for it. Comanchers were a disintegrated scattering of indomitably independent, autonomous bands. Each hunting band was basically an extended family, generally of some twenty-five to thirty people. Early Europeans said the Comanches were never known to fight each other.

If there was an issue, say, over water, over game, a numunukahn (a band) could always break up, and each group was simply strong enough, efficient enough, self-reliant enough, that it could strike out on its own. If there were unwanted inhabitants already on the new territory, the Comanche band could simply drive them off. That’s the way it was for over a century.

As a result of this unusual independence and self-sufficiency of the Comanche, (called “intractability” by my former Yale professor Sydney Ahlstrom), Comanche people never developed complex social skills. Communication was simple and straight. (Indeed, Comanches wouldn’t deign to speak some one else’s language, but instead developed a hand sign languaged–which became the lingua franca of the plains. If you wished actually to speak to the Comanches, you had to learn their language. You see, if you were not Comanche, you didn’t count. You didn’t matter. Comanches had no use for you. It was best for you to stay clear of them altogether.) This absense of refined, systematic communication is notable even today among Comanches, at least to sociologists who have observed with their “European” standards.

When Comanches were all rounded up and corralled down in southwest Oklahoma, and had a government-designed “constitution” coerced upon them (–the 1934 BIA templet imposed on all the plains tribes), the true socio-psychological conditions of the Comanche were apparent. Of a truth, Quanah Parker had already set the pace for permanent and impossible system of unnatural leadership. Within such an iron cowl of alien custom, Comanche people have managed somewhat. I for one have suggested a new type of constitution that would accommodate our original band identities, and according to families. I believe there should be representatives from these groups, and these representatives should form a senate. We should have a tri-part system of government, like the United States government, in fact. What we have is a well-meaning system, imposed, which attempts to let the people lead. But what it does instead is cause perpetual discontent. Families still rule, and, in “secular” terms, this is the epitome of nepotism. Instead of having this all recognized, organized and out in the open, the people are left surmising, mistrusting, and frustrated with whatever leadership happens to be in office.

After years and years, one comes to have a great deal of appreciation for what a Comanche leader endures in the way of ire from the people.

And more than anything else, among modern Comanche people, is the spirit of tolerance–for each other. At our meetings, anyone and everyone has the right to speak. The most uneducated, unskilled, and psychologically embattled female has every whit the same right of the most educated, professionally accomplished, experienced male leader. This is rather phenomenol to witness, for anyone who hasn’t seen it before. Their is a grace, a patience, a forgiving attitude that is ineffable and unrehearsed. This social grace is beyond what is seen in most white Christian churches. It is natural to Comanche people.

I would further say that, in a way, in regard to this forgiving nature toward one another, Comanches were Christian before Christ was ever brought to our plains. For all the savagery, for all the rage, for all the bloody murder, rape, and plunder, Comanches have deep within them an incredible sense of spiritual transcendence. I suppose a true Freudian psychologist would not be surprised, but would even expect such a contrast. The psyche is a most agile accommodator. Emerson would have seen a law of compensation. It is a balance within, deep, and abiding.

Comanche Chairman Michael (Yellowfish) Burgess
thanks the Texas Christians for their arrangements,
and for the opportunity to share with them the
importance of Palo Duro Canyon to the Comanche
April, 2010. ComancheNationNews

I’m sure that the recent experience in Palo Duro involved some of this natural Comanche transcendence. Our chairman Michael (Yellowfish) Burgess, and those that accompanied him, I’m sure found no offense in graciously accepting whatever it was the Texas pentecostals wanted to offer. I consider that gesture–of being there and letting the white Texans pray before them–was an act of tolerance on the part of the Comanche. That’s what it would have been for me, if I knew about it, and was there.

However, I would not have been there, even if I had known. Ironically, my own sense of Christianity would not have allowed me to be there, even as a Comanche. It was a modern Comanche thing to do, to be gracious to an outsider, but, I’m not sure it was a Christian thing to do, ultimately. I’m not even sure that our chairman was there because he is Christian. I know he was there as a Comanche. And I know he is a Christian. I just think, in that particular incident, he was being more Comanche.

Comanche Chairman, Michael (Yellowfish) Burgess.

Well, this is the opinion of one who is part white, therefore part Comanche, and…part Christian. I can be more “irascible” than an old, free Comanche; I can see what whites see; and I think I’m aware of what Christian spirituality is. I believe Comanches are Christian by nature, at least toward one another, at least in the old free days.

So there. The remnant of that gracious spirit is alive and well today. We may be a little confused when we relate to those who aren’t Comanche. We may make mistakes. There may be misunderstanding. But, if anyone is offering Christian apologies, I think it’s a bit impertinent to Comanches. But, as I said, if we’re going to accept it from the Texans, then we need to make a quick trip down to Mexico and offer our own “Christian” apologies to Calderon.

Posted by David Yeagley · July 8, 2010 · 4:52 pm CT · ·

Tags: American Indians · Bad Eagle Journal · Christianity · Race · Religion · White Race

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56 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pamela K. // Jul 9, 2010 at 5:04 am   

    “The most uneducated, unskilled, and psychologically embattled female has every whit the same right of the most educated, professionally accomplished, experienced male leader.”
    What a telling statement. Do I detect a little bit of masculine conceit here? Apparently, you are one of those rare males who has yet to encounter a woman, educated, skilled, or elsewise, in the grips of a raging case of PMS. Clearly the Comanche warrior will have met his match, particularly in the area of unprecedented violence, murder, and mayhem, or, perhaps, just the thoughts of unprecedented violence, murder, and mayhem.

  • 2 Marcus // Jul 9, 2010 at 7:25 am   

    This describes the entire Rez gov’t system for my tribe (Chippewa, Northern Minnesota):

    “What we have is a well-meaning system, imposed, which attempts to let the people lead. But what it does instead is cause perpetual discontent. Families still rule, and, in “secular” terms, this is the epitome of nepotism. Instead of having this all recognized, organized and out in the open, the people are left surmising, mistrusting, and frustrated with whatever leadership happens to be in office.”

  • 3 David Yeagley // Jul 9, 2010 at 7:35 am   

    Marcus, I have the feeling that much of what I said here is true for many Indian tribes. I wouldn’t say that outright, as a generalization, but rather, just patiently wait for other Indians to say it! I appreciate your taking the time to validate these things.

    Indians share a common plight of misfortune, as widely understood. Yet, that doesn’t make us all alike, either. We were and are intensely differentiated nations. In a way, we suffer the same “generalized” plight as a race, let alone our individual ethnicities.

  • 4 David Yeagley // Jul 9, 2010 at 7:39 am   

    Pam, I’m speaking of something pertinent to Comanche social history, pre-servation days. I think there are many things you may likely not be aware of, and therefore it is easy to mis-read my words.

    In the old days, Comanche women held an unusual kind of authority, not as warriors or band leaders, but as managers.

    But this was for their individual bands.

    Today, women speak up. That’s all. Whether they understand the larger picture or not. They have the intuition to manage the people.

    But that can be a serious problem. Not all the women agree. They are of different bands, different families. The problem is, we’re all crammed together. In the old days, the women wouldn’t be butting heads. They would be managing their own bands. Today, we are in an unnatural circumstance, still foreign to Comanche intuition, really.

  • 5 Phyllis // Jul 9, 2010 at 7:46 am   

    The history I have read as to the way the US broke treaty after treaty with the Indians and uncalled for slaughters and raids doesn’t say much for ‘Christian’ behavior of the ‘white man’.

    When I was about 3 years old, my dad took me every day to a court trial against an Indian in Oklahoma. The ‘medicine man’ was charged with practicing medicine without a license. This time the Indian won and they used the words from a treaty….that the medicine man could practice his medicine “as long as grass grows and water flows”.

    After the trial, my dad was chatting with the medicine man outside the court house. They were standing near the medicine man’s Cadillac. At some point, the medicine man offered my dad the Cadillac in trade for me. Even though it was in jest, and somewhat of a compliment to my dad in regard to his child….I can remember none of the words only the terror I felt that I might go home with the Indian!

    My dad loved telling this story through the years and he always had great admiration for Indians and had quite a few native American friends. One Indian friend was a pilot in WWII.

    For a long time after that court house encounter, if I saw an Indian on the street when we were out and about I would hide behind my dad. I smile when I think of this….and have certainly overcome those feelings! I have searched the net for record of that trial but have never found it.

  • 6 Pamela K. // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:09 am   

    Women, whether they are Comanche or white like me understand a lot more than what we are often given credit for in our respective societies, especially when it comes to male egos. For one thing, we are the bearers of future generations of our people.
    Comanche women could only be the managers of their tribes. It was up to the women to keep the home fires burning, among other things, and to make sure, as an itinerant society, they were prepared to move often to follow after the buffalo herds, which was the lifeblood of the Comanche people. It was a lot of back breaking work , which is why Comanche men often took more than one wife. And although I realize this was done mainly for economic reasons, I am sure that being in competition with another woman was probably a source of much contention for many Comanche women.

  • 7 David Yeagley // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:10 am   

    Phyllis, your story is classic! Gotta love it!

    I have a friend in Connecticut who, when she was in the fourth grade, responded to an essay assignment about “what do you want to be.” She wanted to be an Indian. She wanted to live in the woods and be an Indian. Beautiful little white girl, from a middle class, upstanding professional family. She wanted to be an Indian.

  • 8 David Yeagley // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:11 am   

    Treaty after treaty was broken because more and more white people came to this country, and wanted more and more land. The whole things was a cultural, demographic train wreck.

    The results of uncontrolled immigration! Ha!

  • 9 Phyllis // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:27 am   

    Once women achieved the vote (1919)….they achieved at least a modicum of strength in society. In my opinion it was and is their duty to embrace values and responsibility and to pass this on to future generations whether within the family or community.

    When the 60’s feminism kicked in….it had its good points. However, the women in their resentment for the male, tossed aside their values in order to ‘out do’ men, punish men, even stomp on men…the whole process diminished motherhood and we lost the very thing which ensured society that its children would be equipped spiritually and morally to go forth with values.

    Women have allowed the break down of society in their self centered search for personal fulfillment.

  • 10 Tweets that mention Comanches, Yesterday and Today -- // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:32 am   

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by wizardparadox. wizardparadox said: RT @QuantumEmotion: Comanches, Yesterday and Today […]

  • 11 David Yeagley // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:35 am   

    Will someone tell me what’s the point of these Tweets. (A lot of them get blocked, automatically…)

    Good thing? Bad thing?

  • 12 David Yeagley // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:39 am   

    Women can vote. This is a major effect. (By the way, 1919 is the date they could vote in Atlanta! A year before national sufferage.)

    Women tend to vote for “providers,” i.e, government programs. It is women and dependents who want to see the government as the mother, or, the father I should say. It is natural. And it suits Communism, that deceptive usurpation of every human dignity.

    Mothers don’t really want that at all! But, it seems right, when they’re voting.

    In a voting society, who gets to vote is a very serious issue, or, should be. Problem is, these days, it isn’t an issue at all. Thus, we have dependents voting for more dependency.

  • 13 Phyllis // Jul 9, 2010 at 8:42 am   

    The treaties were broken also because as in the Black Hills…there was GOLD or so they thought, so to hell with the Indians. I like the irony of when they allotted land to some of the Indians in Oklahoma…it was horrible…just shale and scrub.

    Well….then they discovered oil…and it belonged to the Indians!

  • 14 Phyllis // Jul 9, 2010 at 9:44 am   

    You may be right….about women and dependents seeing the gov’t as ‘a parent’. I hope that isn’t true. That is pure usurpation of the mother’s own role!

    My grandmother, whom I never met, raised 5 kids while husband was in TB sanatorium and ultimately died. She did it on her own, taking in laundry and ironing until they were all school age, then became the Jenks, Oklahoma school janitor until she retired.

    She raised law abiding, decent kids with a sense of responsibility and values. They worshiped her and as adults got together and bought her her own home.

    I would sure like to see that kind of commitment and sacrifice in any of today’s self oriented mothers.

  • 15 Bear // Jul 9, 2010 at 9:51 am   

    Good article and full of many unsaid truths. Much of what was said translates to my tribe and Tribal council system. We have struggled with the existing constitution and have had many discussions on changing it, however it continues to run into a dead end. Points were well taken about the spirit of Christianity, as I feel as has been said here that the Indians were more Christian than the Christian messengers. I believe this still rings true today as a communion with the Creator is something that is inseparable to the Indian spirit, defines them as a people or a group generally speaking, and for many on the reservation, and in the urban areas that have lost this closeness is the cause of emptyness, hopelessness, alcoholism, drug use, abuse….the list goes on and on. Just like In all men the Indian was created to worship and commune with their Creator, in the absence of this is a great void, other races may be sucessful to quench this desire with wealth, power, status, country club memberships or a multitude of activities. Most of these concepts simply are foreign to the Indian mindeset, and all we are left with is an empty void, or a hollow shell. Some of these concepts have invaded our tribal governments and are destroying it from within.

  • 16 Pamela K. // Jul 9, 2010 at 10:38 am   

    “And Eloyhim filled the man with His image, with His image He filled him, male and female He filled them.” Genesis 1:27

    The Hebrew word translated for image is “tselem”, meaning an outline of a shadow, a representative or image of the original. God made both men and women in His own image, and according to this verse, His image is both male and female. So I believe that this theory of men being the ‘stronger’ sex and women being the ‘weaker’ is a man made assumption and was introduced when the original Hebrew texts were translated from Greek to English. Men and women alike can only find true equality and purpose in Christ. However, there are many men who have used the Bible to control women.
    .”Married women be submissive to your husbands” (I Peter 3:1) is a verse that has been taken out of context and widely misused by men with the same ‘religious’ and controlling mindset of the Pharisees instead of the loving and humble mindset of Christ. What the verse really asks of women is to “submit to their husbands so if any do not obey the Word of God they may be won over, not by discussion, but by the godly behavior of their wives.”
    Men and women were created to compliment each other. Men are traditionally the providers and the protectors of their families while women are the nuturers of the family and the companions of men. At least that’s the way I think it should be..

  • 17 Phyllis // Jul 9, 2010 at 11:03 am   

    “Men and women were created to compliment each other.”


  • 18 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 11:52 am   

    “This social grace is beyond what is seen in most white Christian churches. It is natural to Comanche people.”
    Though this social grace is absent in modern mostly “white” Christian churches, it has been historically present in these churches when they were explicitly white — i.e., in the days of enforced segregation.

    How do I know? Well, the church I grew up in was white when I was a boy. Now, of course, like any church I know of, it is racially mixed.

    But I once visited a “British Israel” church (I don’t know the precise term) — a hold-out among white Christians — i.e., a church that rejects racial integration. I can tell you that when a church says “No” to racial integration, there is a greater spontaneous Christian love and friendship among the whites there, because they are coming together to resist having their biology and culture mixed with outsiders.

    Rather than these whites hating non-whites, I felt that they just wanted to be left alone and not forced to accept values of the modern multicultural world.

    Also, Dr. Yeagley, you have a right to set up a government that works for you. The form of government you have described just makes sense. Government should conform to the natural and cultural needs of the people. Otherwise, it cannot represent them!

  • 19 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 11:56 am   

    While I do love all human beings as God created them, I have a special sense of belonging and fellowship among my own kind. It’s a feeling of solidarity and trust. In fact, being allowed to be explicitly white — or Irish or German or French or whatever — can allow for deep respect and even friendship for other peoples who love their own natural community.

  • 20 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm   

    “Spirituality was entirely personal, and the Collective Conscious operated on the quintessence of pragmatism. The people needed no guidance, nor looked for it.”
    Interesting. According to religion scholar, Dr. John Lewis, the original impulse for religion is tribal in nature; in fact, says he, in “Psychology and Religion,” for the tribe, there is “The Law of Mystical Participation”:

    “Religion is the spirit of the clan. God and Society are one. The Sacred, the numinous, can be nothing else than the Tribe itself. The Holy Spirit is felt in tribal gatherings and social rites in which the individual is carried away by power outside himself. / Religious forces reflect the way in which the collective consciousness of the group acts upon individual consciousness.”

  • 21 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 1:54 pm   

    “For one thing, we are the bearers of future generations of our people.”
    Sadly, with the advent of radical feminism, many young white women do not see it this way. Also very many young white men are forsaking their race as well. Neither win my admiration for this. If a certain pride in your people or heritage is not taught to the young, it can always slip away.

    I think there are natural roles for males and females — and that some individuals are exceptions to these. A society can only be naturally balanced when social engineering is intentionally not practiced.

  • 22 David Yeagley // Jul 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm   

    White sociologists are entitle to their opinion. It’s not necessarily the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    Comanche did not have the kind of experience Dr. Lewis describes. That was my point. What is called “religion” in the white world did not exist among the Comanches on the old days. There was no “group” experience of religion.

    When I say Collective Concious, I mean Collective unconscious, but, that’s too Freudian leaning. I don’t mean what Freud means by “unconscious.” I mean there was a force that guided the Comanches, but it wasn’t in “religion,” it wasn’t in “tribalism,” and it wasn’t in inherited social structure. I don’t know how to describe it in words to people who know only set words already. Any words I use are already assigned meaning. They’ll mean something I don’t mean.

    By the way, are you talking about Dr. Ian Lewis? The same author of Ecstatic Religion? One of my favorites. Nothing in the book that pertains to Comanche, of course.

  • 23 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm   

    No, it’s a different Dr. Lewis. Author of “Religions of the World Made Simple.”

    So, what I sense (though perhaps mistakenly) is a deeply personal encounter of the Comanche with the Sacred. What I wonder is, was this sense of the Divine found a relation to an outside Presence, or to the Divine within?

  • 24 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm   

    In other words, the God-seeking impulse: was it directed outwards towards the Universe, or inwards, as in Buddhism?

  • 25 Pamela K. // Jul 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm   

    It’s is fairly simple to figure out. Comanches were made in the likeness and image of God. Therefore, they have the Spirit of God within them. They may have not had the organized religion of the white people but communed with their Maker through the natural world where they witnessed His Presence.

  • 26 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm   

    “I mean there was a force that guided the Comanches, but it wasn’t in “religion,” it wasn’t in “tribalism,” and it wasn’t in inherited social structure.”
    This suggests to my mind the Chinese feeling for the “Holy Way” (called Tao); a personal Path that is the realization of one’s full human nature — achieved by acting in a perfectly spontaneous manner with one’s highest and noblest instincts — but never by following prescribed rules and regulations (i.e., ceremonies or rituals). In Chinese thinking, a man must be fluid (in nature) like water, always adapting naturally and spontaneously to every moment on Life’s Path.

  • 27 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm   

    “I don’t know how to describe it in words to people who know only set words already.”
    The Chinese sage, Lao Tzu, said that the Way cannot be described in words. It can only be experienced.

  • 28 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 3:46 pm   

    Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

    He is the Personification of the ineffable!

  • 29 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm   

    Did Comanche spirituality have anything in common with this: All Creatures Are One with Nature or this: I Worship Live ?

    Somehow, I think that Comanche spirituality was still rather different from this as well. I’m just groping here!

    Nonetheless, something you said about tolerance within the Comanche community seems to share something with this clip:

    Accept the Ways of Others.

    Lao Tzu also wrote that the ideal community is isolated in attitude and does not interest itself in the affairs of outsiders:

    80.1 Let there be a small country with few people. [. . .]
    80.4 Though neighbouring communities overlook one another and the crowing of cocks and the barking of dogs can be heard, Yet the people there may grow old and die without ever visiting one another.

  • 30 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm   

    Did the Comanche have a sense of Eternal Truth that cannot be adequately put into words? Hence such Truth transcends ritual and society and cannot be codified?

    Did the Comanche speculate on the Hereafter? The immortality of the soul? He did not believe in reincarnation?

    Since he raided others, he obviously was not a Taoist (who would never think of doing such a thing).

    Now the animal, having no intellect, cannot conceive of God. The Comanche seems to me to begin with a strong sense of Self, from which he receives a sense of his relation to the non-Self — Truth — and a mysterious Being, the Source of Existence and Life, yet not a law-giver, in the sense of revealed religion.

    Am I even slightly on the right track?

  • 31 Pamela K. // Jul 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm   

    In response to your earlier blog about how the Comanche were riders on the wind:

    “…He stretches out the heavens and lays the foundation of the earth, and He forms the wind (ru’ahh) of man that is with him.” Zechariah 12:1

    From the Hebrew perspective, the wind, or the “ru’ahh” is not just the exchange of air in the lungs, it is the person’s driving force, which directs and leads him on his journey through life.
    The parent root is “rahh” and while this word/root is not found in the ancient texts, there are several other roots and words that derive from it. The word, “arahh” means “to travel”; the Comanche people were travelers; “yere’ ahh” translates to the “moon”; Comanches relied on the lunar cycle for telling the time and for other events in their culture; while, less relevant to this, the third word, “reheh” translates to “millstone.”
    What do wind, traveling, the moon, and a millstone all have in common? Each have to do with a prescribed path: the wind follows the same path with each season, a traveler follows a path to a new destination, or an old one, (the Comanches often returned to different hunting grounds); the moon travels across the same path in the sky, while a millstone also follows a prescribed path.

  • 32 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm   

    “Any words I use are already assigned meaning. They’ll mean something I don’t mean.”
    Yes. But for our purposes, you have the ability to redefine any words of your choice. Simply say, “(Word) in Comanche life means [definition or explanation].” And the formation of phrases and word combinations or compounds can also point me in the right direction. I am sure that we can bridge the semantic gap if we work on clarifying terms and, if necessary, adding new one, or new meanings to familiar words.

  • 33 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm   

    Who knows? This method may get you started on a new scholarly book which can be a great success for you! If desired, I could even collaborate–as through dialogue–with you to such extent as might prove useful.

  • 34 Thrasymachus // Jul 9, 2010 at 5:45 pm   

    You might even retain the original Comanche words and take pains to explain them! After all, only a Comanche can give the world his insight into these matters!

  • 35 Thrasymachus // Jul 10, 2010 at 6:34 pm   

    “Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

    He is the Personification of the ineffable!”
    I expressed that wrong. I should have said, “He is the incarnation of the Ineffable.”

  • 36 Pamela K. // Jul 10, 2010 at 7:03 pm   

    Ora avremo la pioggia e il caldo! È il vostro clima caldo secco o umido calore?

    By the way, have you ever hiked in the Palo Duro Canyon or the Wichita Mountains?

  • 37 Thrasymachus // Jul 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm   

    Ever since I was a boy I’ve wanted to live in the Great Outdoors.

  • 38 David Yeagley // Jul 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm   

    Been away about 24 hours…

    If language is any indication of the kind of consciousness (collective or personal) that a particular people may have, I can’t say that Comanches “thought” much at all. That was all dispensed with. Religion is “reflection.” Ceremony is abstraction. As I see it (know it, or feel it, or intuit), Comanche dispensed with all unnecessary and superficial activity. They were advanced. They were the last ring of the evolutionary ladder.

    Ya’ll ain’t readin’ my links. Read Children of the Wind.. Please. (I know it’s just intuition. But I think it’s from genetic coding in me.)

    Intuition doesn’t happen in words. Religion happens in words. Formality. Organization of activity. Symbolism. There’s no semiology (sign activity) in early Comanche culture.

    Think of it as the evolutionary principle of dropping off that which is unnecessary. Streamlining. Advancing. Simplifying.

    Motion. All that’s life is motion. Motion is all that matters. The wind was god, in a way. Movement. This is about as deep as intuition can go.

  • 39 Pamela K. // Jul 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm   

    “But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light.” Ephesians 5:13

    Intuition doesn’t happen in words. It’s like a light being switched on inside the heart of a person, a sudden, certain knowledge that only God can impart to His own. It can be a gentle reminder of His great love, or, and I speak from personal experience, a clear, unmistakable warning to be alert and to be on my guard.

  • 40 David Yeagley // Jul 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm   


    T. R. Fehrenbach’s Comanches (1974), one of the better works, likened the Comanche to the pre-Sinai Hebrews. They were God’s, but they hadn’t received yet instruction. They hadn’t had their identity handed to them in stone–written by the Creator.

    Fehrenbach is a pretty aggressive writer, like any thinking white man. Major assertions. But, this metaphor about Comanches being like Hebrews before the Sinai event, is a most interesting notion.

  • 41 Pamela K. // Jul 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm   

    I have that book. Mr. Fehrenbach was one of the people on the show, “Comanche Warriors” on The History Channel. Incidently, that’s the same program where I first saw you! He wrote a very good book. It’s funny that you mentioned that he likened the Comanche to the pre-Sinai Hebrews. One of the reasons why i asked you earlier if you have ever hiked in the Witchita Mountains ( which was part of Comancheria) is because the landscape there has been compared to the landscape in Israel. So perhaps Mr. Fehrenbach’s theory isn’t too far off the mark.

  • 42 David Yeagley // Jul 11, 2010 at 7:41 am   

    Certainly I have ‘done time’ in the Witchitas. (I was born and raised in Oklahoma. Some earliest childhood memories are from those rocks–reportedly the oldest naturally exposed granite on the N.American continent.)

    I was the one who contacted Fehrenbach for the History Channel show. He was in his early eighties then, sharp as a tack, obviously. I thought the show could not make complete sense to non-Indian people without Fehrenbach.

    He is practially poetic, as well as fundamentally rational, and practical.

    Most of the great historians and commentaters on Comanches are long gone. Of course, Indians aren’t allowed to tell their own story and get it published like a white scholar. Occasionally there appears a scholarly work by an Indian scholar, but, that’s considered white territory, and doesn’t get hardly any recognition.

    The white man looks for the poetic from the Indian. The Indian is a teller of tales. A story teller. The white man’s in charge. And that’s the long and short of that.

  • 43 Pamela K. // Jul 11, 2010 at 7:51 am   

    That’s why I try to find books about Comanches and other subjects of history that are rare or out-of-print. There was a time in the country that the truth was being told. I just bought a copy of “Give Me Liberty” by Rose Wilder Lane. She was the daughter of “Little House” author, Laura Ingalls Wilder and a great writer in her own right. She was also at one time a Communist. In this book, which has been long out of print, Rose exposes the Communist agenda in America, something that is nothing new! Seems like history, particularly bad history, tends to repeat itself, don’t you think?
    Furthermore, you don’t have to keep proving yourself that you are a Comanche, at least not to me!

  • 44 Pamela K. // Jul 11, 2010 at 7:55 am   

    By the way, do you have a new program on The History Channel?

  • 45 David Yeagley // Jul 11, 2010 at 8:22 am   

    Nah. The people who made that one don’t even work for History Channel anymore. Crazy business, film making. Always in flux.

  • 46 Pamela K. // Jul 11, 2010 at 8:38 am   

    It really should be called “The Nazi Channel.” All they ever seem to have on are stories about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Does not interest me at all.

  • 47 Thrasymachus // Jul 11, 2010 at 10:12 am   

    I’ll read your articles. Please give me time.


    “Comanche dispensed with all unnecessary and superficial activity. They were advanced.”

    Similar to Taoist concept or” wu wei ,”of “non-action” — i.e., no action except that which is perfectly efficient and natural — nothing against the grain — nothing unnecessary, nothing superfluous.

    “The sage does nothing, yet there is nothing that is left undone.”

    “Motion. All that’s life is motion. Motion is all that matters.”

    One chief definition of Tao is that it is “the motion of all life.”

    “Religion happens in words. Formality. Organization of activity. Symbolism. There’s no semiology (sign activity) in early Comanche culture.”

    “The Sage teaches without words.”

    I know these concepts are not identical, but they do bear certain similarities. My quotes are personal paraphrases from the Tao Te Ching — of which there are countless translations. If I had the time, I’d find published translations to quote from.

  • 48 Pamela K. // Jul 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm   

    Here’s an old poem I came across just this morning that reminds me of the Comanche People:

    ‘The Eagle That Is Forgotten”
    By Vachel Lindsay

    Sleep softly…eagle forgotten…under the stone,
    Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own.
    “We have buried him now,” thought your foes, and in secret rejoiced.
    They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you, day after day,
    Now you were ended. They praised you…and laid you away.
    The others that mourned you in silence and terror and truth,
    The widow bereft of her pittance, the boy without youth,
    The mocked, and the scorned and the wounded, the lame and the poor,
    That should have remembered forever…remember no more.
    Where are those lovers of yours, on what name do they call
    The lost, that in armies wept over your funeral pall?
    They call on the names of a hundred high valiant ones,
    A hundred white eagles have risen, the sons of your sons,
    The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began,
    The valor that wore out your souls in the service of man.
    Sleep softly…eagle forgotten…under the stone, Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own,
    Sleep on, O brave hearted, O wise man, that kindled the flame-
    To live in mankind is far more to live in a name
    To live in mankind, is, far, far more…than to live in a name.

  • 49 David Yeagley // Jul 11, 2010 at 3:28 pm   

    Thras, again, Comanche did not THINK of their state of mind. Taoism is reductionism, by methodical reactionary deconstruction. This is the antithesis of intuition. I’m saying the Comanche mind was pure intuition.

    There is no point in comparing to any other anything, anywhere. Not that I see, anyway. That’s an academic, Claude Levi-Strauss kind of thing, you know, like, “comparative religion.” This is the worst possible way to approach anything American Indian, and particularly Comanhche.

    And so, I demonstrate absolute ethnic chauvinism!

  • 50 David Yeagley // Jul 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm   

    PK, that’s my kind of poem! Beautiful. Thanks

  • 51 David Yeagley // Jul 11, 2010 at 3:32 pm   

    Thras, I obviously can’t deny anything anyone sees in Comanche-ism that is similar to other things in the world. I’m mean, I’m not blind.

    I’m just saying the uniqueness of Comancheism is that is was not thought out. It evolved naturally. So, you see in these other religions you reference, an attempt to return to the streamlined life, because the thinker has observed that the complexity of the society he is in has betrayed something of natural efficiency and propriety of soul.

  • 52 Thrasymachus // Jul 11, 2010 at 3:50 pm   

    You’re absolutely correct! The comparisons are superficial, and, as you demonstrate, even antithetical in circumstance and point of departure.

    It’s just my interest in martial arts and comparative religion! The study of Taoism helped me understand my own Christian faith better than I had originally understood it. Also I was looking in comparative religion for an understanding of historical circumstances and ethnic or racial — even international — relations, as these pertain to religion.

    “I’m just saying the uniqueness of Comancheism is that is was not thought out. It evolved naturally. So, you see in these other religions you reference, an attempt to return to the streamlined life, because the thinker has observed that the complexity of the society he is in has betrayed something of natural efficiency and propriety of soul.”

    Beautifully stated! The contrast revealed in your statement gives me a “handle” or an entry or reference point, as I need some open window through which to see this unique Comanche history. Your statement clarifies things for me.

    Any further comparison between the two would obviously be contrived and superficial now and would be “out-dated” in the discussion. :)

  • 53 Thrasymachus // Jul 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm   

    “She wanted to live in the woods and be an Indian. Beautiful little white girl, from a middle class, upstanding professional family. She wanted to be an Indian.”
    Forgive me for being sentimental, but really, city ways do not come naturally to me. Like Beethoven, I love the country and the Great Outdoors.

    When I was a little boy there was a movie I adored called “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.” As a boy, I wanted to live that kind of romanticized natural life — and still do! Not quite at the Amish level, of course; but certainly not NYC (how I hate that place)!

    If I were writing pop songs, this is what I’d be writing:

    Wear the Sun in Your Heart / Maybe.

    I think the White Man has got too far away from his natural way of life and this has caused so much of the trouble he’s now in.

  • 54 Pamela K. // Jul 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm   

    One of my greatest inspirations was a piece called, “Alone Across The Outback” in a 1978 National Geographic Magazine. It was the story of a young white woman traveling alone across the outback of Australia with just a dog and several camels for company. Australia is an unusual place. Unlike our cities which are surrounded by suburbs, once you leave the outskirts of Melbourne you are traveling in the countryside, through fields and woods, that get more hilly depending on where you going, plus you are bound to see an occasional “Kangeroo Crossing” sign. I think the most interesting place that I ever visited, as well as hiked to the top of was the mysterious Hanging Rock. It was the subject of the 1979 Peter Weir movie, “Picnic At Hanging Rock.” There is only one other prehistoric rock formation like it in the world and that one is in Sweden.

  • 55 Thrasymachus // Jul 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm   

    “Children of the Wind” is a poignant piece. Perhaps you could express this in music?

    Yes, there are few sorrows greater than to have your way of life taken from you by force.
    I don’t know if a people ever really recover from this. There’s a real tragedy in it all.


    Culturally, Wagner believed that the Jews were taking all Europeans’ way of life from them. This was the cultural basis for the Nazi anti-semitism. But there was much more to the formation of Nazism in Germany, of course. The threat of communism was another reason for the Nazi movement’s rise to power.

    Now a powerful group of wealthy elites are seeking to steal everyone’s way of life — and they too are willing to use bullets and destructive force to get their way. They want a world population of consumers whose greatest concerns are which brand of tooth-paste is preferable and which fast-food restaurant has the newest meal to try. They not only advertise food and clothing and automobiles and beer; they advertise life-styles to accompany these. I call it social engineering.

    Neither the Comanche nor the White Man can go back, of course. But if we can defeat the liberal elites we can go forward to ways of life that better suit our needs as unique and distinct peoples.

  • 56 Thrasymachus // Jul 11, 2010 at 5:50 pm   

    “We had nothing that anyone else was interested in. We had no clothes, no religion, and no shining thing. We were naked of culture. Our secret time in the mountains stripped us of anything superfluous. We shed all that was unnecessary.”

    I have never been to Europe, but I know people who have traveled much. In modern post-Christian Europe there are those who are trying to return to this — at least to some extent — in their free time. How the Muslim immigrants clash with the European “naturists” is just one of the ironies of modern Europe.

    What’s happening is that the World is closing in upon us all. Many people sense that modern life is artificial and hedonistic and materialistic.

    I don’t know if there’s ever been a time when so many people have a troubled conscience. Large numbers of people feel morally adrift. Hence there is little leadership and little faith in politicians.

    The churches are largely empty; Muslims are taking some of them over. The people are given to humanism. There’s little sense of identity and trust in one another. All this because liberalism refuses to provide moral guidance.

    The Comanche at least had a sense of who he was; he knew the people he belonged to. However simple and free his traditional way of life, he must have felt a belonging to his community. Even modern Chinese and Japanese know to which people they belong.

    In the U.S., perhaps more than most other places, this sense of knowing who one is and having roots — this is being taken away from us.
    Those who would take this away from the general population will eventually get round to taking it away from the Comanche and the Amish. Atomistic individualism — giving power to the tiny elite, while making everyone else just another Social Security number — this is where the trends are taking us. Something will rise up in Man’s Spirit to compensate. Only time will reveal it.

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