Parker County Today July 2016 - Page 27

PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY white blood Quanah had lived his entire life as a nomadic Comanche under the big sky of the South Plains and owning individual property was a foreign concept to that culture. The band shared everything. (An obvious exception to this norm? Horses. Comanche men measured their wealth by the size of their horse herds.) Assimilating into reservation life, the Comanche looked to the U.S. Government for food, something the authorities had promised but failed to deliver on. Hunger became endemic, so serious that Gen. Ranald S. Mackenzie, Quanah’s old enemy, wrote to his superiors that, “in order to give these people an opportunity to work they must be fed. This is not now properly done. … It is due to the Indians if we intend to control them and keep them from their old life, to feed them properly; and it is our clear duty to our own people to so control them. … It is all very well to say you ought not to run away or behave badly to people who are driven to do so by the pangs of hunger, but it is not likely to be very efficacious. The case is so clear, the duty of the United States so plain, that a long discussion is not needed.” Cattle would become key in solving this dilemma. Mackenzie, despite having been bitter enemies with him when he had chased him up and down the Llano Estacado in far Northwest Texas, gave Quanah his first cattle, and taught him about the business of stock raising. Another early influence in the chief’s livestock education was none other than Charles Goodnight, the legendary cattleman of Parker and Palo Pinto County who with partner Oliver Loving established the Good- JULY 2016 A shrewd mind and unflappable confidence enabled Quanah not only to endure but also to thrive in his new environment. He advocated the creation of ranching opportunities for the Comanche, opportunities not skirting but involving the white ranchers who had so long lusted after what Native Americans considered their tr aditional hunting grounds. “He … supported agreements with white ranchers allowing them to lease grazing lands within the Comanche reservation. Parker defended this controversial idea by pointing out that herds belonging to white ranchers were already using Comanche pasturelands, with or without legal sanction. Therefore, by concluding arrangements with specific ranchers, Parker hoped to enlist the aid of whites who had a stake in preventing unlimited access to Comanche grazing lands.” In other words, the white authorities cared little for the rights or claims of the vanquished Indians but clearly heard the concerns of powerful white ranchers who often saw the ever-increasing influx of settlers as a threat to their vast prairie empires. Quanah was astute enough to know this and he had the cunning to turn it to his benefit. “In Quanah’s vision of the future, cattle were to become the Indians’ wealth, and education their hope,” wrote Neeley. “Keenly observant, Quanah studied his white friends and learned not only to speak their language, English (if somewhat brokenly), but also to follow their thought patterns, to analyze the reasons for their success.” This was fairly remarkable given that regardless of his 25