Explore this exhibit: Comanche Empire

From the 1700s-1800s the Comanches dominated the Southern Plains.

Riding on recently acquired horses, the Comanche hunted, traded, and made war across a huge expanse of the Southwest. Mobility, as well as economic and militaristic supremacy, made them the first culture to sustain dominance of the frontier Texas region. The Comanche were formidable enough to block European expansion into their homeland for over 150 years, a feat no other Native American tribe achieved. The tribe called themselves Numunah, simply “Our People.” The Spanish, however, called this region Comancheria––the Comanche Empire.

The Comanche tribe was a collection of small bands.

Comanche bands were groups of extended family lines that supported each other in hunting, trading and fighting. Affiliation was voluntary, and individuals and families often drifted between bands. Leaders were those who could command respect and bring prosperity. Some bands numbered in the dozens, others in the thousands. Men were hunters, traders and fighters. Women did the daily chores, including transporting and erecting the heavy buffalo hide tipis. Women had little status. Men usually considered horses as their most valuable property, then their dogs, then their wives and children.