United States, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico
Indians of North America Series: The Comanche. Edited film documents the history of the Comanche American Indians with emphasis on the role of the warrior, the constant conflict with the United States government, assimilation policies and reservation life. Film depicts the early Comanches as buffalo hunters living on the southern plains (now Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma) in democratically run extended families called bands. With the arrival of Spanish explorers emerged livestock and horses which the Comanche quickly adopted as a valuable resource; it was from these horses that the Comanche warrior tradition was born. Film addresses the subsequent pattern of Comanche conflict with the Spanish, French, Mexicans, and Texans regarding the seizure of Comanche lands. Featured are stories of Comanche hero Quannah Parker, the leader of the last band to surrender to the United States Army in 1875 and spiritual leader of the Comanches on the reservations. Themes of U.S. government policy include the impact of the 1887 Dawes Act alotting land ownership in small parcels to Indian individuals, Comanche participation in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, the 1945 Termination, forcing the attendence of Comanche children in public schools rather than in Comanche schools established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Footage depicts a powwow celebration where drumming represents an expression of the Great Spirit; Comanche teepees; black and white photographs of Quannah Parker; interviews with both Comanche elders and youth expressing the importance of retaining and perpetuating a knowledge and understanding of Comanche culture and traditions.
Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD