Penateka Comanches
By Steve Ellis

“We have set up our lodges in these groves and swung our children from these boughs from time immemorial. When the game beats away from us, we pull down our lodges and move away, leaving no trace to frighten it, and in a while it comes back. But the white man comes and cuts down the trees, building houses and fences and the buffaloes get frightened and leave and never come back, and the Indians are left to starve…”   MUGUARA, CHIEF OF THE PENATEKA COMANCHES, TO THE TEXANS

“It was a spectacle never to be forgotten, the wild, fantastic band as the stood in battle array…Both horses and riders were decorated most profusely, with all the beauty and horror of their wild taste combined. Red ribbons streamed out from their horses’ tails as they swept around us, riding fast…There was a huge warrior, who wore a stovepipe hat, and another who wore a fine pigeon-tailed coat, buttoned up behind. …Some wore on their heads immense buck and buffalo horns. One headdress struck me particularly. It consisted of a large white crane with red eyes.”  JOHN HOLLAND JENKINS, A TEXAN FROM BASTROP, DESCRIBING THE PENATEKAS   FIGHTING UNDER CHIEF BUFFALO HUMP AT THE BATTLE OF PLUM CREEK, AUGUST 12, 1840

The Comanche Indians were the dominant tribe in this part of Texas at the time of settlement of the frontier. They were exceptional horsemen who for a while ruled the Southern Plains. As “Lords of the Plains” they became the best light cavalry the world had ever seen.

The Comanche name was derived from the Ute word “Komantcia”, meaning “enemy”. They are relatives of the Shoshones and sometime in the late seventeenth century they acquired the horse and changed from a small crude pedestrian tribe into a powerful warlike mounted people. They migrated out of the northern Rocky Mountains and southward onto the plains and hills of North, West and Central Texas, pushing out the other tribes. This vast area soon became known as Comancheri?a.

The Comanche tribal structure was not rigid but consisted of numerous family groups or bands.  As many as 13 different bands existed. The southernmost group was called Pentateka, or “Honey Eaters”. Their range extended from the Edwards Plateau to the headwaters of the Central Texas Rivers. The Texas Trails Council sets in the heart of their domain. It is only right that we use their name as our lodge name in the Order of the Arrow to honor this brave warlike people who once lived where we now live. 

Because of their location, the Penatekas played the most prominent role in Texas history of any of the Comanche bands.  North of the Penatekas was the habitat of the Nokonis or “Those Who Turn Back”, who shared their range with two smaller Comanche groups, the Tanima (“Liver Eaters”) and the Tenawa (“Those who Stay Downstream”) Still farther north was the range of the Kotsotekas or “Buffalo-Eaters” The northernmost band was the Yamparika or “Yapeaters” The fifth major Comanche band was the Quahadis or Kwahadis (“Antelopes”) and they roamed the high plains of the Llano Estacado.

Before the merger of the two Boy Scout Councils, “Otena” was the name of the Comanche Trail Council lodge and “Kotso” was the lodge name of the Chisholm Trail Council.  “Kotso” was obviously derived from the Kotsotekas band of the Comanches. It was only natural that we adopted another Comanche name for our new lodge. None was more appropriate than “Penateka”. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY: LONE STAR, A History of Texas and Texans, T.R. Fehrenbach, American Legacy Press, 1983; “COMANCHE INDIANS.” THE HANDBOOK OF TEXAS Online, Carole A Lipscomb, http://WWW.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/bmc72.html

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