Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Comanche Indian
tribe for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students
and teachers to visit our Comanche language and
pages for in-depth information
about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with
Comanche pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.
How do you pronounce the word "Comanche"? What does it mean? Comanche is pronounced "kuh-MAN-chee." It means "enemy" in the language of their Ute neighbors. In their own language, the Comanches call themselves
Numinu (the people.)
Where do the Comanches live?
The Comanche Indians were once part of the northern Shoshone tribe of Wyoming, but split off from them and migrated to their modern
location in the Southern Plains.
By the time Europeans encountered them, the Comanches were primarily living in Texas,
and New Mexico.
Most Comanche people today live in Oklahoma.
How is the Comanche Indian nation organized?
The Comanche tribe has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country. However, the Comanches
are also US citizens and must obey American law.
In the past, the Comanche tribe was made up of many different bands, and each band had its own chief who was chosen by
a council of important men. Today, the Comanche councilmembers and tribal chairperson are popularly elected.
What language do the Comanche Indians speak?
The Comanche people speak English today. Some Comanches, mostly elders, also speak their native
Comanche language.If you'd like to know a few easy Comanche words,
"maruawe" (pronounced mah-ruh-ah-way) is a friendly greeting, and "ura" (pronounced ur-ah) means "thank you."
You can read a Comanche picture glossary here.
Today Comanche is an endangered language because most children aren't learning it anymore.
However, some Comanche people are working to keep their language alive.
What was Comanche culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here's a link to the homepage of the Comanche Nation.
On their site you can find information about the Comanche people in the past and today.
How do Comanche Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house.
Many Comanche children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more
chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have
dolls, toys, and games to play.
Here is a picture of a hoop game
played by Plains Indian kids. Once the Comanches acquired horses, girls and boys as young as five years old
learned how to ride. A Comanche mother traditionally carried a young child in a
cradleboard on her back. Here is a website with Native American cradleboard pictures.
What were men and women's roles in the Comanche tribe?
Comanche women were in charge of the home. Besides cooking and cleaning, a Comanche woman built her family's house and dragged the heavy posts
with her whenever the tribe moved. Houses belonged to the women in the Comanche tribe. Comanche men were hunters and sometimes went to war
to defend their families. Nearly all Comanche chiefs and warriors were men. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.
What were Comanche homes like in the past?
The Comanches lived in buffalo-hide houses called tipis (or teepees).
Here are some pictures of tipis.
Since the Comanches moved frequently to follow the buffalo
herds, a tipi was carefully designed to set up and break down quickly, like a modern tent. An entire Comanche village could be packed up and ready to
move within an hour.
Today, Native Americans only put up a tepee for fun or to connect with their heritage, not as shelter.
Most Comanche people live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.
What was Comanche clothing like? Did the Comanches wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Comanche women wore long deerskin dresses, and the men wore buckskin war shirts and
breechcloths with leather leggings.
The Comanches wore moccasins
on their feet, and in cold weather, they wore long buffalo-hide robes.
A Comanche lady's dress or warrior's shirt was fringed and painted with tribal designs.
Later, Comanche people adapted European costume such as cloth vests and colorful blanket robes.
Here is a site about the symbolism of Plains Indian war shirts,
and some photos and links
about Indian clothing in general.
The traditional style of Comanche headdress was a cap with eagle feathers and ermine tails trailing behind it.
In the 1800's, though, some Comanche Indian men preferred to wear the long feather
head dress of the northern Plains tribes.
Traditionally, Comanche people only cut their hair when they were in mourning.
Comanche men usually wore their hair in two braids, which they sometimes wrapped in fur.
Comanche women usually wore their hair loose, and sometimes painted the center parts red.
Here is a website with pictures of these Indian hair styles.
The Comanches also painted their faces for special occasions.
They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration.
Both men and women sometimes wore tribal tattoos on their chests.
Today, some Comanche people still have moccasins or a buckskin dress, but they
wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths...
and they only wear traditional regalia on special occasions like a wedding or a dance.
What was Comanche transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No--the Comanche Indians weren't coastal people, and rarely traveled by river. Originally they just walked.
There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe, so the Comanches used dogs pulling
travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings. Here is a website with
pictures of travois. Once Europeans brought horses to America, the Comanches quickly
became known as expert riders and could travel much more quickly than before.
What was Comanche food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Comanche staple food was buffalo. Comanche men usually hunted the buffalo by driving them off cliffs or stalking them with
bow and arrow. As they acquired horses, the Comanche tribe began to pursue the buffalo herds for
communal hunts, moving their villages often as the buffalo migrated. In addition to buffalo meat, the Comanche Indians ate small game like
rabbits, fished in the lakes and rivers, and gathered nuts, berries, and wild potatoes. Here is a website with more information
about American Indian food.
What were Comanche weapons and tools like in the past?
Comanche hunters used bows and arrows. In war, Comanche men fired their bows or fought with
long spears and buffalo-hide shields.
Here is a website with pictures and information about Comanche Indian weapons.
What other Native Americans did the Comanche tribe interact with?
The Comanches traded regularly with other tribes of the Great Plains and the Southwest. They particularly liked to trade
horses, and Comanche traders were repsonsible for the rapid spread of horses throughout Western America.
Some of their favorite trading partners were the Wichita and
These tribes usually communicated using the Plains Sign Language.
The Comanches also fought wars with other tribes. Plains Indian tribes treated war differently than
European countries did. They didn't fight over territory but instead to prove their courage, and so Plains Indian war parties
rarely fought to the death or destroyed each other's villages. Instead, their war customs included
counting coup (touching an opponent in battle without harming him),
stealing an enemy's weapon or horse, or forcing the other tribe's warriors to retreat.
So the Comanche sometimes were enemies of neighboring tribes like the
Utes, and other times they were allies.
The Europeans who first met them were surprised by how often the Comanche tribe fought with their neighbors,
yet how easily they made peace with each other when they were done fighting.
What kinds of stories do the Comanches tell?
There are lots of traditional Comanche legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the
Comanche Indian culture. Here is one story about how the buffalo herds came to earth.
Here's a website where you can read more about Comanche mythology.
What about Comanche religion?
Sorry, but we cannot help you with religious information. Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately
in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. You can visit this site to learn more about the
Comanche worldview or this site about
Indian religious traditions in general.
How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and
Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization
working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization
here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in
Thanks for your interest in the Comanche Indian people and their language!