Native Peoples of Oklahoma – Protecting Native American Communities – 4.2.4 OETA: White Man’s Road

Native Peoples of Oklahoma – Protecting Native American Communities – 4.2.4 OETA: White Man’s Road


[Native American flute music in background]>>Narrator of Introduction: The half-breed
son of a noted Comanche chief and a white captive, Quanah Parker may be the most important
American Indian leader many Americans have never heard of. In the first half of his career
he led one of the most fierce and notorious bands of Plains Indian holdouts. But by 1875
with his community’s food sources being depleted, and land being confiscated by the United States,
Parker surrendered. It actually helped settle his fellow Comanches, along with Apaches and
Kiowas, on a reservation in what is now southwest Oklahoma. He was appointed Principal Chief
of the Comanches by the United States government. A practical man who saw the proverbial writing
on the wall, Quanah Parker helped preserve Comanche culture while negotiating a place
for Indians in an increasingly white North America. On this Stateline History special,
the life of a man who as gently as possible led his people onto the white man’s road. [theme music plays] [wind blowing]>>Narrator: Centuries ago, the land of the
Comanches stretched over 250,000 square miles. The tribe followed the buffalo on foot from
Kansas to central Texas. Then when horses came to the continent with the Spanish in
the 1600s, the Comanches quickly became the greatest horsemen in the Americas. Their freedom
seemed as endless as the plains, but the only thing truly endless was the number of settlers
and soldiers moving west onto their lands. Fort Sill in southwestern Oklahoma would be
the end of the trail for the Comanches. The last band of warriors to come onto the reservation
would be led by Quanah Parker, a man who would transition his people from their ancient traditions
to a world of the white man’s making.>>Don Parker: He was sort of a man of two
worlds. He, you know, was the last…he was the last leader of the group called the Quahadis
that came into Fort Sill. And he was the first to pick up or understand the the demands of
modern society. And I think for that vision, realizing that our people had to had to live
in another world that he he became even a greater man. He had a lot of foresight.>>Narrator: Every year the Parker family meets
at the sight of Quanah’s home near Fort Sill to celebrate their most famous forbearer.>>Baldwin Parker Jr.: I think I’m the oldest
living grandson there is. I’m ninety-one years old. It’s always a thrill to me, you know,
to be here on this ground to celebrate. [music]>>Don Parker: Well, we do this as an annual
event. And we believe that by sharing the culture of the Comanche people and particularly
Quanah Parker to share, you know, with the world that this was a man of prominence.>>Narrator: Quanah Parker’s story begins in
May, 1836, only two months after the fall of the Alamo. A band of Comanches attacked
Fort Parker in the piney woods of north central Texas. Most of the men and women at the fort
were killed. Among those captured by the Comanches was a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes
named Cynthia Ann Parker.>>William Welge: The elder member of the Parker
family was killed immediately. Cynthia Ann, who was 9 years old at this time, and her
younger brother John, who was three years younger than she, were picked up by a warrior,
Comanche warrior.>>Narrator: The little girl lived as a Comanche,
and at the age of 17 she married Peta Nocona, a warrior who would become the leader of the
Quahadis. Together they had three children: Quanah, Pecos, and Little Prairie Flower.>>William Welge: Quanah grows to…as a young
man it’s very important in most Indian cultures, especially on the plains whether it’s Comanche,
or Cheyenne, Kiowa, to prove themselves. To be considered an important individual who’s
making a contribution to the the tribe, to serve as a warrior. And you have to prove
yourself in in battle. And so very early he began to accompany bands out on the war parties
that would either capture from the western settlements at Texas or even as far south
Mexico.>>Ardith Leming Parker: And he was a great
warrior. I heard stories where he would ride, they would ride, you know, when they were
when they were on a raid in a circle around a camp. And they all knew how to ride horses,
and they would circle one time to show who they were raiding how impressive they could
ride a horse. And I think at the same time they were probably taking a chance. But instead
of going one round around whoever they were raiding, probably a camp, he would go two
rounds, so more than the others.>>Don Parker: Quanah Parker, he was a–seemed
to be a noble, intelligent type of warrior. He seemed to understand the warfare, to understand
the the enemy, and how he of course, leading a group of people, women and children, to
ensure their safety. He also was, well-suited for battle. He learned all the techniques
that the Comanches would teach him. Even though he was part white, he was accepted by the
Comanches because of his father.>>Narrator: By 1865, white settlement into
the southwest slowed because of constant raids by the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache. The Texas
Rangers were formed to drive the Comanche out of the state.>>William Welge: When Captain Sul Ross of
the Texas Rangers came up on the camp, attacked the camp, killing mostly women and children,
Cynthia Ann had Prairie Flower, her youngest child. And of course there was a separation
at this point. All the men, the warriors, were out on the raiding at this time. So Peta
Nocona was not in camp, and of course Quanah was not in camp. Cynthia Ann almost came within
a hair’s breadth away from being killed herself, but when her shawl came away from her hair
and they saw that she had blonde hair cut short. And pale. That’s when they realized
that they thought who they thought they might have found, and they took her back to civilization.
She spent three years before her death in white captivity. She tried on several occasions
to escape and go back to her own people, because she was more ingrained with the Comanche way
of life than she was with the white way of life. When her daughter Prairie Flower, was
only two at the time of her capture, began to become ill and died in 1864, it was at
that point that Cynthia Ann, realizing that she would never see her Comanche people again,
she basically began to stop eating and and wanted to die. So she was only what—not
quite forty some-odd years old when she died in 1864.>>Narrator: After years of failing to subdue
the Indians, Lieutenant Colonel Ranald Mackenzie was sent by the Army to break the Comanches
once and for all. Mackenzie and his men ruthlessly pursued Quanah Parker through Oklahoma, but
lost them along the Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle. [trumpets]>>William Welge: He was recognized by his
people as a warrior. He had been wounded several times in various raiding parties, including
the Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874 in the panhandle of Texas. There were some enterprising businessmen
out of Dodge City, Charles Rath and a couple other folks who wanted to take advantage of
the southern buffalo herds. They had pretty much–from the early 1870s, buffalo hunters
in west-central Kansas and Nebraska had pretty much decimated the herd. And the last large
herds that were to be found were to be found in Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.>>Narrator: In 1874 the buffalo hunters build
a stockade called The Adobe Walls. Here they would kill the buffalo, take the hides, and
send them north on the Jones and Plumber Trail through what is now the city of Beaver, Oklahoma.
From Beaver the hides would go to Dodge City, where they would be sent on trains to the
east.>>William Welge: It was a very profitable
trade. What infuriated not only the Comanches, but Kiowas, and the Cheyennes and Arapahos
was that this was their food source. There were still bands of Kiowas and Comanches that
had not been able to be subdued by the military and placed on reservations, and the Quahadi
was one of those. When they found out that there was this stockade being built and that
they were killing buffalo, they developed a strategy to attack. In late May, early June
1874 when the Comanches came up on to the stockade and for several days attacked it.
It was a well-fortified stockade, there was probably maybe 20, 25 people. Mostly hunters,
but there were a couple of women.>>Ardith Leming Parker: They didn’t expect
that to happen, and because of they thought they were going to attack by surprise, and
it didn’t happen that way. And it was sad in a way, he was just fighting to maintain
the land and the buffalos, which was our survival for all of his people. And you know, the only
way they could, we could live and to survive was just to keep the buffalo. And we didn’t
want people running us off of our land. Well, that’s all he was fighting for.>>William Welge: In the course of the raid
by the Comanches and the Kiowas, Quanah was wounded. He couldn’t believe, I mean, since
he was behind a set of rocks some distance away that he was shot in the shoulder but
from behind. And he thought there might be special medicine that the whites had where
a bullet could go past him and come back around and hit him. It remained a mystery until someone
realized that it was a ricochet off a rock behind Quanah that the bullet came and wounded
him. What really caused the Comanches and the Kiowas to leave after several days because
they were making no headway as far as destroying the stockade or killing any other individuals
within the stockade, was when they were holding a council and Ashiah the medicine man’s horse
was killed by a bullet from more than a mile away. And yet there was, they were hidden
by a hill, and this really perplexed them. And this is what caused them to say they were
not going to attack any further, and so they dispersed and left.>>Narrator: After the battle, the buffalo
hunters packed up and moved back to Dodge City.>>William T. Hagen: Well, that was a last
effort of the Indians in that area to resist.>>Don Parker: They, they didn’t really prevail.
They didn’t win. But they say in that battle that he was, he was real brave. And in fact,
there’s a song that they use about that about the “Adobe Walls.” [Adobe Walls song]>>Don Parker: And that’s the song that, they
call it the “Adobe Walls” song, but that was his song. It just somehow protected him from
harm, from injury.>>William Welge: General Randal S. Mackenzie
sent out troops to finally bring in these recalcitrant tribes, to subdue them and put
them on the reservation.>>Narrator: Deep in the Palo Duro canyon in
the Texas panhandle, Mackenzie and his men burned the Comanche camps and shot 1,400 Indian
horses. On the second of June, 1875, Quanah Parker and his 400 Quaharena warriors surrendered
at Fort Sill.>>William T. Hagen: Well, they were bands,
and bands of varying sizes. But each had a head man. But…until the tribe was on the
reservation and the government wanted to deal with as few people as possible.>>Ardith Leming Parker: They said, “We noticed
one man among all of these chiefs that that stands out among all the rest. And we would
like to appoint him and to talk to him and to do negotiating through him because he he
negotiates well with his own people, and he can talk to them, and they’ll listen to him.”>>William T. Hagen: He couldn’t be swindled
in the same way that Indians who were less educated or apprised of the values. But he
knew how to deal with white people.>>William Welge: They were at camp. They were
not incarcerated at Fort Sill, but they were close enough where the troops to keep an eye
on them. Of course, their horses were taken away. Their armament was destroyed. And so
they were issued rations by the military. For generations and really eons of time they
had roamed freely on the plains following the buffalo herd, but and raiding and warring
against other tribes. They were forced to conform to white society. They were expected
to have their children go to school, learn English, take up the hoe instead of having
the horse, become farmers, and/or learn a trade.>>William T. Hagen: Well, what they did ultimately
was to divide up their reservation and give somewhere around 150, 200 acres to each Indian.
They had always been nomadic people. The last thing they wanted was to be tied down to 100
acres of land and have to cultivate it.>>Ron Parker: He adjusted well from that way
of life. I don’t know how he did it, very. Again, it speaks well of Quanah to what he
really was: a very strong man.>>William T. Hagen: Well, he had this white
connection, which made him important in terms of dealing with Americans. And once they were
put on the reservation, there was nothing that those Indians liked more than going to
Washington. They would go on a train to Washington and be taken out to restaurants and meet prominent
people. You know, they were curiosities in Washington.>>Narrator: Parker saw the hard road ahead
would be easier if he could help his people adjust to the new way of life.>>William T. Hagen: Well, he was able to see
the handwriting on the wall as far as what was going to occur for his people.>>Narrator: Parker could not read or write,
but he could understand and speak some English, and he knew how to make a deal.>>William T. Hagen: Well, the cattlemen were
losing out in Texas. Settlers were coming in and occupying the land. And so the best
land available to them was to the north.>>Ardith Leming Parker: Cattlemen that had
to drive their cattle through, I guess, even for grazing, they didn’t have no land, so
they would just start driving, it looking for land. And they would ask Indian people,
you know, “Hey this is Indian land.” And I guess they thought they could just put their
cattle anywhere and let it graze as they were driving them. And so the Indians went to the
agency and said, “Hey, they’re—it’s illegal what they are doing. We’re going to start
charging them.” So Quanah negotiated that with the cattlemen to be able to have leases
for all the Indian people to be able to get some price for all the head, herds of cattle
that came through. [violin music]>>Narrator: Parker had the cattlemen build
him a home at Post Oak Mission. Today his descendants gather in the shadow of the place
known as the Star House.>>Ardith Leming Parker: The stars meant to
Quanah it was a symbol status of of authority, like for the generals. And he admired one
of the general’s house, and he said, “I would like stars on my house.” And so he asked Burnett
and them to put those stars on his house. He was very proud of his home. And some of
the ranchers helped build that house. And it was like a White House to the Comanche
people.>>Narrator: At the long dining table Parker
played host to a who’s who of history.>>Ardith Leming Parker: Quanah was always
entertaining, and he was very hospitable, and he entertained very many dignitaries.
Here is a list of some of the people, like the British ambassador, Texas cattlemen kings,
and Army officers, Apache chiefs, Comanche, Kiowa chiefs, and Sioux chiefs.>>William Welge: Oh, well, several times he
went to Washington and around the turn of the century after 1900, he was introduced
to President Theodore Roosevelt. And Roosevelt was so enamored with Quanah, and of course
Roosevelt was at heart someone who loved the west even though he was born in New York State.
In fact, visited southwest part of Oklahoma and visited with Quanah in his home near Cache
in 1905. So they became friends for the rest of Quanah’s life.>>Towana Spivey: This is the old well for
Star House, known as an excellent source of water. It was really well known. People came
just to drink this water. What is of particular interest here is it’s one of the land marks
of the original house location. Around the masonry curb you can still see his cattle
brand embedded in the masonry, the circle within a circle, and the date is 1897 is there.
Very nice, very large facility that was used by him as his headquarters for his ranch,
his home place. He had seven wives maximum that lived here.>>Ardith Leming Parker: This room was occupied
by Conasa, his favorite wife. And some of his last surviving wife and some relatives
have said that it wasn’t so much that she was a favorite wife. It was that she was the
only one that didn’t bare children, and that was probably the reason why she was able to
go a lot of places with him. And like to Washington D.C. And I think she also was a translator.
So he dressed her in American clothes and a lot of the pictures that you see are mostly
with her.>>Narrator: When the federal government tried
to do away with polygamy among the tribes, they picked Colonel James Randelett to tell
Quanah he could only have one wife.>>Unknown: Quanah sagely said, “You tell me
which one I throw away.” And with that kind of logic, the Indian agent never, they never
brought up the subject again. And he kept his wives [laughs]. So he had several, and
multiple children.>>Ron Parker: I always wondered how he got
along with all the wives. But he was they respected him. He, you know, somehow managed.
I don’t really know. It’s amazing how he had that many wives and got along with all of
them.>>William Welge: Quanah Parker is also noted
for trying to encourage and get into law the Native American Church or the use of peyote.
And so in 1906 he actually went to Guthrie, the territorial capital, and addressed the
Constitutional Convention on that issue.>>Ron Parker: I think he brought it from Texas.
He was healed down in Texas. Somewhere they healed him. And he was so amazed by what they
did with this peyote, he brought some back. And that is kind of how it got started.>>Narrator: Like any father, Parker wanted
his children to be prepared for the future.>>Ron Parker: It was important to him. In
fact, he had a school right down the road there. When they first came in, the children
couldn’t go to Cache School, so he started his own school.>>Don Parker: He served on the Cache’s Board
of Education. And he just—he seemed to envision the need in making this demand of of modern
society to do it the best was to learn it and to become educated. Narrator: Family was always important to the
last chief of the Comanches, and he never forgot the woman that gave him his last name.>>William Welge: A few months before he died,
he felt very driven to have his mother’s remains removed from Texas. She had been buried in
Henderson County, Texas in the cemetery when she passed away in 1864 along with her daughter
Prairie Flower. Quanah and his mother and his sister he never knew are buried at Chiefs
Knoll along with some other notable chiefs of the plains tribes on Fort Sill Property.
When he died, there were no others that took his place, to my knowledge. And it has only
been since the early 1970s when the reconstitution of tribal governments and Indian sovereignty
has become more prevalent, that election of tribal leaders have occurred, and of course,
they don’t necessary call their tribal leader today of the Comanche Nation “Chief.”>>Narrator: A grandson of Quanah Parker was
a Comanche code talker and landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, carrying on the warrior spirit.
Today the family keeps the traditions alive, ready to pass on a legacy of honor and strength
to the next generation.>>Ardith Leming Parker: It is just something
for us to go out there and gather as family, and remembering him exactly where he lived
and what all he saw from his visions, you know, for our people. We go back there in
memory of him.>>Ron Parker: My name is Parker, and I never
even thought about that. But you think about my name and how it came about. Parker, it
came from a the girl that was captured. He wanted his mother’s name, he took his mother’s
name, and that’s why I’m a Parker.>>Narrator: Quanah Parker is not universally
revered by Indian people. He drew particular criticism during his lifetime not only for
his close association with people many Indians believed to be their enemies, but for accepting
the government’s appointment as chief over all the Comanches without being selected by
the people he represented. Traditionalists, during his life and since his death, say he
was too quick to lead his people down the white man’s road. [music]

27 Replies to “Native Peoples of Oklahoma – Protecting Native American Communities – 4.2.4 OETA: White Man’s Road”

  1. Control, destroy, this was a crime against humanity. Thank goodness for Quanah Parker, Washakie, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, etc., what wonderful people.

  2. Really neat story. I have been fascinated with the history of the Indians and westward migration. It’s a shame that in school they taught us that the Indians were hostile. Never to include the part because we were taking their land and putting them on reservations. Well I’d be hostile as well.

  3. Oklahoma police are against and racist against the native people. The tribes get federal funding and therefore bow to the government. You have to live in certain counties to get any type of help from the tribe and then its thru the federal government. By requiring tribal members to live in certain areas is no different from the rounding up that happened decades ago. Tribes put tribal land in trust of the federal government. Isn't that calling the kettle black ? Trust and federal government should never be tied together

  4. Under whose rule they did protect oklaha?their rule or american soldies rule ! Because the native blacks had have the same destiny.they fought and killed for american benefit not themselves.shoud study their history more and better. blacks for independence war against british army and indians for civilization war against american internal insurrection.thank you

  5. quanah did the right thing, he was a man for the times! a Godsend. He helped his father's people transition and survive very well.

  6. Quanah is my 3 great uncle. I am related to his mother on both sides of her family. RIP Cynthia Ann, and Quanah <3

  7. The arrigence of white people never ceases to amaze me. Greed , and blood. Kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

  8. sometimes I must ask this jesus…what did you to us? what did we do to be punished by your hate. You 'f'ed us jesus. Then I realize this jesus is just part of the indoctrination. And I rise from that, above that…..

  9. Help save the Parker house! It is falling into disrepair! Call the trading Post in cache Oklahoma to ask how you can help!

  10. Quanah Parker was a great Chief with great forsight…
    Blending in…
    Saving his people from terrible trauma and death…
    He did the correct thing…
    I would have done the same thing….

  11. I've read that Quanah Parker participated in and led guerrilla parties during the war on states's rights. And, that he, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and John Hunt Morgan had some success towards the end when Robert E Lee surrendered in the east .Does anyone have any information about this?

  12. How is it this guy gets noteriaty and yet Geronimo gave up his people banished him to walk the Earth's of the land cursed a ski walker staginnee and thus guy's a hero not sayis Qaunah wrong at all I'm simply saying Geronimo saved Manny many People and many many generations of people his foot steps are scraped into the floors from waking back and fourth as his people would come to the door at fort Sill and spit at his Foot step for surrendering and Geronimo was incredible I don't give a shit anyone says he is and was the greatest wariiir that steoped off the turtles back his spirit lives in all if us as does God only a true warrior will think of others and sacrifice his own Noteriaty to keep the bloodline alive just like Christian's .. look up top hat look up johnhat look what the government did Know you're lineage . I'm Osage and Cherokee my people walked the trail from the high mountain of California and Canada three hundred to be exact Only the general my great great grandmother Julia hall her father Hoonah nah nay because he had no other name and her brother who was a scout fir the general , when they Got Missouri the general asked how are you and you're sister and father still alive and ever one else is dead the scout replied when a man is coming of age our people take him high into the mountain where girzzlies lie and at the age of 18 he must come out with The fir of Grizzly in his back the general asked do they He said I did…

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