“Courageous and strong-willed, he was also a natural diplomat. Traveling numerous times to Washington D.C. to represent the Comanches, he became a familiar figure in Congress. He became a successful farmer and rancher and became a major stockholder in the Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway. His beautiful two story home, complete with veranda and star emblazoned roof, was built at the foothills of the Wichita Mountains. He had vital interest in educating the young and became president of his local school board. He was appointed presiding judge in the Court of Indian Offenses and numbered statesmen and ambassadors among his friends. In 1905 Quanah rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade. In a special report to the President, it was stated of Quanah “If ever Nature stamped a man with the seal of headship, she did it in his case. Quanah would have been a leader and a governor in any circle where fate may have cast him.” [Vincent L. Parker]
After the Battle of Adobe Walls, the army, under the command of Mackenzie, razed the Comanche village at Palo Duro Canyon (near present day Amarillo, Texas) and shot around 1,500 Comanche horses. With their food source (the buffalo) depleted and under constant pressure from the army, Quanah Parker led his Quahadi band to Oklahoma to surrender in 1875. He was established principal chief and helped the Comanche settle on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation in southwestern Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
Living on the reservation brought an end to their nomadic life on the southern plains and introduced them to a different way of life. Changing weather patterns
and severe drought caused grasslands to wither and die in Texas forcing ranchers to approach Comanche and Kiowa tribes to lease land on their reservation—nearly 1 million acres just north of the Red River in Oklahoma.
Originally, Quanah, like many of his contemporaries, was opposed to the opening of tribal lands for grazing to the ranchers. But, he changed his position and forged close relationships with a number of Texas cattlemen, such as Charles Goodnight and the Burnett family and by 1880, was working with them to build his own herds. In 1884, due largely to Quanah’s efforts, the tribes received their first “grass” payments for grazing rights on Comanche, Kiowa and Apache lands.
By adapting to the white man’s “path” and becoming a prosperous rancher, Parker soon gained the respect of U.S. governmental leaders and his spacious, two-story “Star House” hosted many influential people including Teddy Roosevelt. He was invited to ride in Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905 and their wolf hunting excursions may have been one of the reasons Roosevelt created the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
During a visit to John Parker’s ranch, his mother’s brother, Parker was gored by a bull and suffered serious injury. A Mexican “Curandera” prepared a strong peyote tea for him which effectively cured him from the onset of blood burning fever. Impressed by her medicine, he became more interested in the natural antibiotic properties of peyote (clinical studies have found it effective against 18 strains of penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, several other bacteria, and a fungus) which led to the establishment of the Native American Church movement, commonly called the “Peyote Church”. He is reported to have quipped, “The White Man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his tipi and talks with Jesus.”
Quanah Parker had eight wives and twenty-five children, some adopted. He died February 23, 1911, at the age of fifty-nine and was first buried near his home in Cache, Oklahoma. In 1957, he was moved to Fort Sill Post Cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma with his mother and sister (Prairie flower).
Author of the seven-book series, Cherokee Chronicles