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Texas Originals

Comanche Leader Quanah Parker

Chief of the Comanche. In his life, Chief Parker managed to transition from legendary tribal leader and warrior to elegant statesman and diplomat.


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Quanah Parker closeup
Quanah Parker

CA. 1845–February 23, 1911


Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker, a Kwahadi Comanche chief; full-length, standing in front of tent

Born about 1845, Comanche leader Quanah Parker lived two vastly different lives: the first as a warrior among the Plains Indians of Texas, and the second as a pragmatic leader who sought a place for his people in a rapidly changing America.

Parker’s birth was a direct result of the conflict between Native Americans and white settlers. His mother, Cynthia Parker, was captured by the Comanche as a child and later married his father, Chief Peta Nocona.

In 1860, after Parker's father was killed by Texas Rangers, young Quanah moved west, where he joined the Quahada Comanche. Parker proved an able leader, fighting with the Quahada against the spread of white settlement.

But in 1875, following the U.S. Army's relentless Red River campaign, Parker and the Quahada ultimately surrendered and moved to reservation lands in Oklahoma.

In his new life, Parker quickly established himself as a successful rancher and investor. The government officials he had once fought soon recognized him as the leader of the remaining Comanche tribes.

Parker encouraged Indian youth to learn the ways of white culture, yet he never assimilated entirely. He remained a member of the Native American Church, and had a total of seven wives.

The respect Parker earned is evident in the Panhandle town of Quanah. There, by the Hardeman County Courthouse, stands a monument to the town’s namesake: Quanah Parker, chief of the Comanche.

Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker (Comanche) standing right, Benjamin Beveridge (owner of Washington house) standing to left of Quanah Parker; man standing (with mustache), interpretator?
(delegation, ca. 1880-1899). C.M. Bell (Firm: Washington, D.C.), photographer.

Selected Bibliography

Betty, Gerald. Comanche Society: Before the Reservation. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002.
Exley, Jo Ella Powell. Frontier Blood: The Saga of the Parker Family. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001.
Gwynne, S. C. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. New York: Scribner, 2010.
Hagan, William Thomas. Quanah Parker, Comanche Chief. Oklahoma Western Biographies; V.6. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
Hämäläinen, Peeka. The Comanche Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.
Hosmer, Brian C. “PARKER, QUANAH,” Handbook of Texas Online(, accessed January 23, 2011.
Kavanagh, Thomas W. Comanche Ethnography. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.
Kavanagh, Thomas W. Comanche Political History. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1996.