The Comancheria is the name commonly given to the region of New Mexico, west Texas and nearby areas occupied by the Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 before the 1860s.


The area was vaguely defined and shifted over time, but generally was described as bordered to the south by the Balcones Fault
Balcones Fault
The Balcones Fault Zone is a tensional structural system in Texas that runs approximately from the southwest part of the state near Del Rio to the north central region near Waco along Interstate 35. The Balcones Fault zone is made up of many smaller features, including normal faults, grabens, and...

, just north of San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States of America and the second-largest city within the state of Texas, with a population of 1.33 million. Located in the American Southwest and the south–central part of Texas, the city serves as the seat of Bexar County. In 2011,...

, continuing north along the Cross Timbers
Cross Timbers
The term Cross Timbers is used to describe a strip of land in the United States that runs from southeastern Kansas across Central Oklahoma to Central Texas...

 to encompass a northern area that included the Cimarron River and the upper Arkansas River
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

 east of the high Rockies. Comancheria was bordered along the west by the Mescalero Escarpment
Mescalero Escarpment
The Mescalero Escarpment, also known as the Mescalero Ridge, forms the western edge of the great Llano Estacado, a vast plateau or tableland in the southwestern United States in New Mexico and Texas...

 and the Pecos River
Pecos River
The headwaters of the Pecos River are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, United States, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County. The river flows for through the eastern portion of that state and neighboring Texas before it...

, continuing north along the edge of the Spanish settlements in Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and later Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande , in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico...



Before the Comanche expanded out of present day Wyoming in the early eighteenth century, the lands now known as Comacheria was home to a multitude of tribes—most notably the Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

s. Much of the region had previously been known as Apachería.

Comancheria as empire

Pekka Hämäläinen
Pekka Hämäläinen
Pekka Hämäläinen is an associate professor of history at University of California at Santa Barbara and an author.-Life:He graduated from University of Helsinki, with a Ph.D. in 2001.He taught at Texas A&M University from 2002 to 2004....

 (2008) argues that from the 1750s to the 1850s, the Comanches were the dominant group in the Southwest, and the domain they ruled was known as Comancheria. Hämäläinen calls it an empire. Confronted with Spanish, Mexican, and American outposts on their periphery in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico, they worked to increase their own safety, prosperity and power. The Comanches used their military power to obtain supplies and labor from the Americans, Mexicans, and Indians through thievery, tribute, and kidnappings. (See Comanche-Mexico War) Although powered by violence, the Comanche empire was primarily an economic construction, rooted in an extensive commercial network that facilitated long-distance trade. Dealing with subordinate Indians, the Comanche spread their language and culture across the region. Their empire collapsed when their villages were repeatedly decimated by epidemics of smallpox and cholera in the late 1840s; the population plunged from 20,000 to just a few thousand by the 1870s.

Neighboring Peoples

In the west, southwest and southeast of the Comanchería stretched the vast territories of the various hostile Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

 groups, partially overlapping and formed a kind of no man's land, which was heavily contested between the two peoples. Moreover, the Comanche had to pass through the dangerous Apachería on their way down to Mexico for raiding and recross it with plunder. The Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle were inhabited by their allies, the Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

 and Kiowa-Apache, along with the Comanche. In the northwest of the Comancheria lived the opposing Ute
Ute Tribe
The Ute are an American Indian people now living primarily in Utah and Colorado. There are three Ute tribal reservations: Uintah-Ouray in northeastern Utah ; Southern Ute in Colorado ; and Ute Mountain which primarily lies in Colorado, but extends to Utah and New Mexico . The name of the state of...

 and Shoshone
The Shoshone or Shoshoni are a Native American tribe in the United States with three large divisions: the Northern, the Western and the Eastern....

, to the northeast settled the enemy and powerful Osage
Osage Nation
The Osage Nation is a Native American Siouan-language tribe in the United States that originated in the Ohio River valley in present-day Kentucky. After years of war with invading Iroquois, the Osage migrated west of the Mississippi River to their historic lands in present-day Arkansas, Missouri,...

 and in the north the also antagonistic Pawnee. In addition, in and adjacent to the Comanchería settled the allied Wichita
Wichita (tribe)
The Wichita people are indigenous inhabitants of North America, who traditionally spoke the Wichita language, a Caddoan language. They have lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas...

, Tawakoni, Waco
Waco tribe
The Waco tribe of the Wichita people is a Native American Southern Plains tribe that inhabited northeastern Texas. Today, they are enrolled members of the federally recognized Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, headquartered in Anadarko, Oklahoma.-History:...

 (Spanish: Hueco, were a subtribe of the Wichita) and Hasinai
The Hasinai Confederacy was a large confederation of Caddo-speaking Native Americans located between the Sabine and Trinity rivers in eastern Texas...

. In the East lived the Caddo
The Caddo Nation is a confederacy of several Southeastern Native American tribes, who traditionally inhabited much of what is now East Texas, northern Louisiana and portions of southern Arkansas and Oklahoma. Today the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma is a cohesive tribe with its capital at Binger, Oklahoma...

 and later the Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

. In the southeast settled the erstwhile allies, but after the expulsion of the Apaches of the Plains, now rival Tonkawa
The Tickanwa•tic Tribe , better known as the Tonkawa , are a Native American people indigenous to present-day Oklahoma and Texas. They once spoke the now-extinct Tonkawa language believed to have been a language isolate not related to any other indigenous tongues...

. In the north, the Southern Cheyenne and Southern Arapaho, forced the Comanche to acknowledge the Arkansas River as their northern border. Moreover, the Comanche undertook extensive commercial enterprises to the Pueblo in New Mexico and to the Spanish settlements around San Antonio, Texas. In this illegal trade of guns, horses, captives and other goods the Comanchero
The Comancheros were primarily New Mexican hispanic traders in northern and central New Mexico who made their living by trading with the nomadic plains tribes, in northeastern New Mexico and west Texas. Comancheros were so named because the Comanches, in whose territory they traded, were considered...

s (Pueblo and New Mexico traders) acted as intermediaries. The Comanche language
Comanche language
Comanche is a Uto-Aztecan language spoken by the Comanche people, who split off from the Shoshone soon after they acquired horses in around 1705...

 became the Lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of the Southern Plains.

Geographic Information

Today, this region makes up West Texas
West Texas
West Texas is a vernacular term applied to a region in the southwestern quadrant of the United States that primarily encompasses the arid and semi-arid lands in the western portion of the state of Texas....

, the Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado , commonly known as the Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, including the South Plains and parts of the Texas Panhandle...

, the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

, the Edwards Plateau
Edwards Plateau
The Edwards Plateau is a region of west-central Texas which is bounded by the Balcones Fault to the south and east, the Llano Uplift and the Llano Estacado to the north, and the Pecos River and Chihuahuan Desert to the west. San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio and Del Rio roughly outline the area...

 (including the Texas Hill Country
Texas Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country is a vernacular term applied to a region of Central Texas featuring tall rugged hills consisting of thin layers of soil atop limestone or granite. It also includes the Llano Uplift and the second largest granite monadnock in the United States, Enchanted Rock, which is located...

), Eastern New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico is a region of the U.S. state of New Mexico. The region is sometimes termed the "High Plains" or even "Little Texas". The region is largely coterminous with the Llano Estacado. Eastern New Mexico is generally located at an altitude of over 4,000 feet and is mostly characterized...

, the Oklahoma Panhandle
Oklahoma Panhandle
The Oklahoma Panhandle is the extreme western region of the state of Oklahoma, comprising Cimarron County, Texas County, and Beaver County. Its name comes from the similarity of shape to the handle of a cooking pan....

, the Wichita Mountains
Wichita Mountains
The Wichita Mountains are located in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The mountains are a northwest-southeast trending series of rocky promontories, many capped by 540 million-year old granite. These were exposed and rounded by weathering during the Permian Period...

, and half portions of Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 and Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.