Quanah Parker, the Native American chief whose mother was a white woman


Quanah Parker, a Comanche chief, was born about 1845 as a direct result of the struggle between Native Americans and European settlers. Cynthia Parker, his mother, was kidnapped by the Comanches as a child and eventually married his father, Chief Peta Nocona.

According to Quanah, he was born on Elk Creek south of the Wichita Mountains in what is now Oklahoma, but there has been debate regarding his birthplace. He played an important role in both the Comanche opposition to White colonization and the tribe's adaptation to reservation life.

On May 19, 1836, several hundred Comanche, Kiowa, and Caddo Native Americans mounted a surprise attack on European settlers. Native Americans murdered five Parkers during the subsequent conflict. Cynthia Ann Parker was nine years old when she was abducted by Comanche Indians. Her family was massacred, and she and four other children were carried away in the middle of the night.

In 1845, Parker, who was 17 years old at the time, was spotted by two other white males. When enquired, it was discovered that she was married to Peta Nocona, a rising young warrior who, by all accounts, treated her well, and the couple was happily married. She went on to have three children, two boys and a girl.

Peta Nocona later died in 1860 while defending a campsite on the Pease River against Texas Rangers. The attack, which ended in the capture and relocation of Cynthia Ann and Quanah's sister Topasannah (Prairie Flower) amongst her white relatives, prompted Quanah, now an orphan, to seek refuge with the Quahada Comanches of the Llano Estacado.

Among them, Quanah excelled as a horseman and eventually established himself as a capable commander. Quanah reached the rank of complete warrior at the age of 15. A succession of raids cemented his image as a bold and fierce combatant. He rose to the position of war chief at an early age.

His qualities became more in demand when the Quahadas became fugitives on the Staked Plains as a result of their unwillingness to attend the Medicine Lodge Treaty Council or migrate to a reserve as mandated by the treaty.

Parker's Quahadas dominated the Texas plains for the following seven years. Attempts by the Fourth United States Cavalry, commanded by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie, to track down and apprehend the natives in 1871 and 1872 were futile.

Parker and his supporters were obliged to take serious action when buffalo hunters rushed into the plains, decimating the Indians' primary source of livelihood. On June 27, 1874, Quahadas, led by Quanah and Isa-tai, a medicine man who claimed to have a potion that could shield Indians from bullets, formed an alliance of 700 warriors including Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, and Comanches.

The later attacked the twenty-eight hunters and one woman housed at Adobe Walls. In the end, the hunters sustained just one casualty, while fifteen Indians perished and countless more, including Parker, were injured.

Parker and the Quahadas abandoned their independence within a year, under constant army pressure and famine, and relocated to the Kiowa-Comanche reservation in southeastern Oklahoma.

While other Quahadas, and indeed most natives, found adjusting to reservation life difficult or impossible, Quanah did so with such ease that federal officers, looking for a means to unite the many Comanche tribes, appointed him chief. Parker encouraged Indian youngsters to study white culture, but he never fully integrated. He remained a member of the Native American Church and married seven marriages in all.

The majority of his children attended reservation schools or off-reservation boarding schools. Parker promoted the development of a ranching industry and paved the way by becoming a successful and wealthy stock raiser himself.

In addition to his support for ranching, education, and agriculture, he served as a judge on the tribal court. He also sanctioned the development of a Comanche police force, which he felt would assist the Indians in managing their own affairs.

After his death in 1911, the title of Chief was replaced with Chairman, and Quanah became known as the "Last Chief of the Comanche".


Humanities Texas

Texas State Historical Association

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Saurabh is a Computer Science Engineer pursuing his writing interests. He enjoys researching current events/news as well as Evergreen Topics and has also been writing on Medium, Quora and Vocal.


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