Quannah Parker Chapter

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR)

Mansfield, Texas

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No one from the pages of Indian history carries more clout or mystique than the name of Quanah Parker, last chief of the Comanches.  In war, his equal was never seen, but when the inevitable “taming of the west” ensued in the late 1870s, he transferred that war chief ability into a positive force that would shape his Comanche people and the entire future of Native American law and religion.

Quanah (meaning “fragrant”) came from humble beginnings; born on the high plains of Texas around 1845 to a Comanche war chief of the Quohada band, Peta Nocona, and, Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been stolen as a child by Indians on the Texas frontier.  Later as a young mother of three, Cynthia Ann was recaptured at the Battle of Pease River in 1860. Her oldest son Quanah never saw her again, but would carry the love and memory of his mother, whose blue eyes he inherited, to his grave.  It is this link between white and Native American worlds that would place him in a unique position in history to move the Comanche people and their long history as “Lords of the Plains” onto the white man’s road in the modern age.

In the final days of the Indian wars, Quanah quickly learned to read and write, meet dignitaries and understand the business of money and politics.  He staunchly clung to the old Native American ways but encouraged his Comanche people to become educated and self-sufficient.  Quanah was the brains behind the “grass money” (charging $1 per cow) that flowed into the tribal coffers when cattle barons wanted to fatten and drive their Texas herds over the Indian reservations in Oklahoma on the way to central and northern US markets.  Soon the tribes had money for schools, services and homes, all because Quanah understood the concept of business, led the way and looked out for his people, honoring the role of chief he had held since he was a young man and war chief in his 20s.

Quanah’s astute understanding of this new world and his stand for Native American sovereignty would last into the 20th century and beyond, manifesting into the systems used today where tribes govern themselves with their own money.  Because of Quanah’s opposition and lobbying efforts, the final appropriation of the Indian Territory lands, designated by the Jerome Agreement, was delayed for over 10 years, but the inevitable last land grab in American expansion occurred with statehood of Oklahoma in 1907.

Quanah became a successful farmer, rancher and diplomat who was a familiar figure to Congress, U.S. presidents and dignitaries from all walks of life, and he became a major stockholder in the Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway.  He was instrumental in the establishment of the Native American Church and argued successfully that the sacrament of peyote, central to the Native American Church’s beliefs for healing, was protected by the US Constitution. 

Quanah was one of the greatest war chiefs in the history of the U.S. Indian Wars, he was a medicine man who founded the Native American Church, and he was a humanitarian who led his Indian people from the days of the buffalo on the Plains into the modern world of business and commerce.  It was decided that Quanah Parker would be “The Last Chief of the Comanches,” and to give him the honor such a historic figure deserves, an act of Congress erected a monument at his grave on Chief’s Knoll in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  Even 100 years after his death, Quanah’s influence is still felt and colors both worlds in which he lived, but above all, he revered his Comanche culture and Native American heritage.  

Excerpted from "Quanah Parker" by Vincent L. Parker

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Last updated: October 26, 2017