16. Passes to Freedom

By Bill Neeley

Between 1867, when the Treaty of Medicine Lodge was forced on Numunu, ('The People' as the Comanches called themselves,) until 1901, when all but a small portion of the reservation was broken up into tiny allotments of 160 acres per Indian, the former nomads were forced to ask permission from the Agent and/or soldier chief in order to leave the confines of the great outdoor prison called a reservation. Once the Comanches had been as free as the wind. Chief Ten Bears said in his speech at Medicine Lodge, Kansas, that he knew every stream between the Arkansas and the Rio Grande. Now, Comanches needed a pass to go to Texas on a hunt or to travel beyond the borders of the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache (KCA) Reservation.

Time away from the soldiers and agents were precious moments of freedom. While visiting towns like Quanah, Vernon, Iowa Park, Wichita Falls, Henrietta, and Fort Worth in Texas, Comanches could sing and dance their tribal songs without "tattle tales" informing on them. You see, the Indians' religion was outlawed. In the white man's attempt to remake the Indian in his image, tribal customs were frowned upon. Not so in Texas towns where Comanches in a parade were expected to act like Comanches. Ironically, Numunu's former enemies had become their allies, of a sort. Texas cattlemen who leased the Indians' grasslands served as hosts at the big stock shows and at town celebrations. Great feasting and great times were had by all in those precious moments of freedom.

The above was written by Bill Neeley for this site. Copyright © 2021 Bill Neeley. All rights reserved.

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