Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2002


Published in Great Plains Research 12:2 (Fall 2002): 369-83. Copyright © 2002 Center for Great Plains Studies.


When the Comanches, a Native American community originally from the Great Basin region, migrated to the Southern Plains in the early 1700s, they encountered Spanish colonies, missions, and military and administrative personnel as well as newly introduced trade items. Spain attempted to incorporate the Comanches into the region's emerging political economy through a variety of means including the use of treaties, coercive force, and economic inducements. Because of the Comanches' decentralized political organization, their conquest of the Apaches, and Spain's tenuous control over its northern frontier, the Comanches successfully retained control over their own articulation within the region's political economy. In order to examine the means by which the Comanches retained their independence, this paper explores the Comanches' decentralized political organization, relations with the Apaches, and strategic responses to trade agreements and peace accords offered by the Spanish.