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What is the Comanche Nation?

By Matt Brady
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Comanche Nation is a Native American tribe that formed on the southern plains of the US in the early 1700s. Initially, the Comanche were part of the Shoshone tribe, but split off when a faction of the Shoshones acquired horses and were enabled to travel far distances. Once they split off from the Shoshones, the Comanche traveled south from Wyoming into New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma and other states. As Westward Expansion occurred, the Comanche Nation—like all other Native American tribes—were eventually forced into reservations. Today, the Comanche Nation has its headquarters in Lawton, Oklahoma, although there are also Comanche populations still located in California, New Mexico and Texas.

The American Indians that would become the Comanche Nation were a part of the Eastern Shoshone tribe near the Platte River in Wyoming. Around 1700, groups of the Shoshone acquired horses and began to migrate south, forming the Comanche. Throughout the next century, the Comanche ruled the southern Great Plains as hunter-gatherers, aided greatly by their ability to travel far and wide on horseback. Their population grew rapidly, with historians estimating their figures at around 20,000 or higher. As the tribe grew, it came to inhabit Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and other neighboring states. Their dominance was so well established that they became known as the "Lords of the Plains," and the land they inhabited was called the Comancheria.

During the 19th and early 20th century, the Comanche and other Native American tribes endured heavy hardship as settlers continued to expand westward. A cycle of bloody raids and skirmishes followed by peace treaties and appeasements marked the period. In 1867, with the Treaty of Medicine Lodge, The U.S. government began to promise the Comanche Nation land and money if the tribe agreed to cease raiding and set up camp on government-established reservations. The Jerome Agreement of 1892, also known as the Agreement with the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache, further reduced the nation's land.

Today, the Comanche Nation complex is located just outside of Lawton, Oklahoma. The Comanche continue to comprise a major part of the population and economic impact in Oklahoma. Comanche also continue to live in surrounding states, although in smaller numbers. In 2002, the Comanche founded the Comanche Nation College in Lawton. Along with other business operations, the Comanche derive a significant portion of their economic livelihood from the string of casinos they own. The Comanche also hold different tourist and cultural heritage events, such as the annual Comanche Nation Fair.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By BoniJ — On Oct 04, 2011

It is fascinating to think about the fact that when a group of Shoshones got horses, their way of life changed a lot. I don't know if they stole the horses or traded for them, but somehow they got them.

Once they had quick transportation for themselves and all their belongings, there was no reason not to head out. Since they could move long distances, they could search a large area for food to feed everyone well .And their numbers grew. A new name, Comanche, gave them a solid identity.

When they reached Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma, they must have decided to settle down. But they still had their horses if they wanted to travel.

By BabaB — On Oct 03, 2011

I was under the impression that most of the plains Indians had horses. I guess I got that idea from watching cowboy and Indian shows on TV.

I sounds like the Comanche Nation has become one of the more successful tribes in modern days. They have grown to quite a large population. They have started some businesses and even built a college. I wish that more of the tribes in America could become as successful.

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