Children of The Wind
By David Yeagley
This story, written by David Yeagley, is a unique interpretation of the last 400 years of historical Comanche life. It assumes the form of a myth, though it is based on documentation, oral tradition, and archeological and paleontological evidence as presented in “white men’s books.” Yeagley, himself a Quahadi (kwerherenu-antelope) Comanche, descendent of quin-ne kish-su-it (Bad Eagle), has done something with these materials that is unprecedented in modern times, and only a Comanche could do it in this unique way. Yeagley believes that in the realm of imagination, dream, and memory, the most useful, meaningful understanding of history is achieved.
There are many “white man” books and articles written about Comanches, some current, some out of print, some found only in rare book libraries. At Yale University (where Yeagley attended), the Beineke Library has many curious old pieces on incidental Comanche encounters, both with white people, and with other Indians. Yeagley was also able to look at some material at the Harvard Houghton Library, at the time he began (but did not finish) doctoral study.
Most non-Indian people are accustomed to books as their source of information about Indians. Critically deficit a source as this is, non-Indian people are generally not in a position to live near or with Indians, and consequently, must rely on printed matter. (But not even white people are willing to rely on movies for historical truth in regard to Indian.)
Therefore, Yeagley has selected but a few books on Comanches, which he recommends, not as the truth, but as touching a mood, or, a mode of thought which might be considered authentic. Again, only in the myth is the truth found. The “facts” are just elements in the grander vision.
Ernest Wallace & E. Adamson Hoebel, The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952). 353 pp. text, plus excellent bibliography. This book is based on the earliest “modern” research, and from interviews made in the 1930’s with Comanches willing to talk. It is a known fact among Indians, however, that those who talk are usually making up stories, and no Indians really care whether the white man ever knows the truth about anything, especially about Indians.
T. R. Fehrenbach, Comanches: The Destruction of A People (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986). 553 pp. text. This is an interpretive work, poetic in mode, and appears to be based on information from the earlier Wallace & Hoebel work. Fehrenbach, in a sense, puts the earlier work in a gigantic context of human history. It is a monumental work in this sense, and should always accompany the reading of any ‘straight’ historical text on Comanches.
William T. Hagan, United States-Comanche Relations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976). 294 pp. text, plus bibliography. New edition printed by University of Oklahoma, 1990. This study is based on historical fact, on reliable government records and letters, and is useful in gaining knowledge of Indian behavior, though not understanding of its motives. It is rather technical, and historically bent, not interpretive.
Stanley Noyes, Los Comanches: The Horse People, 1751-1845 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993). 314 pp. text, plus bibliography. This is an odd one. It is a combination of story, historical record, interpretation, and probably fact. Noyes presents much of the Spanish and French view of the Comanche, which is often strangely neglected in other accounts.
There are many kinds of sources for interesting pieces of information about Comanches. These are too numerous to list. However, one example will suffice. John Meyers Meyers, The Alamo (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1948). Meyers tells the Alamo story, and in the environmental background, makes many interesting observations about circumstances involved in the Alamo history. Among these circumstances are the Comanches. For one thing, he says the Comanches were “the greatest tribe of all,” and, among other things, they had driven away the Apaches, something the Spanish hadn’t been able to do in three hundred years.
Copyright © June 2002 by David Yeagley
Posted by David Yeagley · January 14, 2009 · 12:57 pm CT ·