TEXOMA (KFDX/KJTL) — They ‘re known as “Lords of the Plains” who moved from the Shoshone tribe in the late 1600’s.
From Canada down to Texas, the Comanches moved south in search of a new homeland, using their tremendous skills on horseback for hunting and in times of war.
KFDX & Texoma’s Fox are wrapping our month- long National Native American Heritage Month series with this report from Curtis Jackson and Darrell Franklin on The Comanche Nation.
“I am great great great grandson of Quanah Parker,” said Dr. Dustin Tahmahkera of OU Native American Studies.
Tahmahkera, an Iowa Park graduate, is a professor of Indigenous media and sound in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Tahmahkera: “Comanche men wore the blanket on the one shoulder like this carrying his eagle feather fan.”
In his latest book, “Cinematic Comanches,” Tahmahkera explores the history of his Comanche people in cinema, going back to Quanah Parker’s first role.
Tahmahkera: “The Bank Robbery, filmed in 1907 and then released in 1908 just after Oklahoma becomes Oklahoma the state…”
Filmed in the Wichita Mountains/Cache area, Parker plays one of the good guys.
“He really is a co-star,” said Tahmahkera. “He’s the only one who shows up on a horse and in his own stagecoach.”
Quanah Parker was the superior warrior and extremely intelligent leader who, more than thirty years before, brought from Palo Duro Canyon some 400 war- weary Comanche followers to Fort Sill.
Tahmahkera: “Part of why we’re still here is because of that very difficult decision he did make.”
The story of the Comanches cannot be told without talking of their last great chief, whose descendants celebrate each year in the Hardeman County town named for him.
It’s where they show their pride in what it means to be Comanche.
“To hear that drum beat in here,” said Comanche Nation Chairman Mark Woommavovah, “that’s something special to our Comanche people. Not only that, it is also a social gathering. We can bring all of our families together and we socialize. I think the socialization and seeing family and friends, that’s the best part of our powwows, and also showcasing it to our community.”
Woommavovah is among leaders looking to the future for their tribal members with two things in mind.
“One is to take care of our elders,” Woommavovah said. “We learn from our past. Second is through education, our education department. We start them young, and we bring them up.”
Just a few of the ways revenue from Comanche casinos helps tribal members are by providing eyeglasses and prescriptions, also youth programs and daycares, but casino revenue also goes to help the non-tribal community.
“Not just in Comanche County but all over Southwest Oklahoma,” said Comanche Nation Entertainment CEO Mia Tahdooahnippah. She goes on to talk of roads and bridges. “I know there was, in the news recently it was announced Comanche Nation is helping the county fund five or six bridges, and that’s huge.”
Tahdooahnippah says Comanche casinos affect thirty-two counties in Oklahoma and six in Texas, with tribal employees spanning over eleven counties.
“That’s a really big territory,” Tahdooahnippah said, “and if we can give back to those communities and make them better because our tribal members and our employees live there, that’s our duty.”
Woommavovah: “We have a new vision at the Comanche Nation, and it has brought our people together. It’s four powerful words: Comanche Strong, Stronger Together, and our people have embraced that.”
It’s a new vision as the Comanche Nation enterprise continues to grow while sharing its rich heritage throughout our communities with pride.
Tahmahkera: “I’ve yet to meet a Comanche that doesn’t carry pride and of being Numunuu and being Comanche. It is instilled. It is something almost born with of being proud of where we come from, of who we are, where we are at now.”
It’s where the Comanche Nation will be in the future, through education and technology, and because of their ancestral ways and knowledge that will live on.
For more on the Comanche Nation Museum and Cultural Center in Lawton, just go to www.comanchemuseum.com