The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 1, July 1897 - April, 1898 Page: 31
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Tribal Society Among Texas Indians.
gests children playing king and queen. Their councils were held
in the same manner as those which I have just described, and ques-
tions of life and death were decided by a vote of the whole tribe.
They had one law which I very much wish could be established in
the land to which they have left their name. It was prohibited for
any one in a quarrel (of which they had many) to strike a tribesman
with a weapon. All their contests had to be settled with the fist.
They had no dead-letter laws, and this one was, we are assured, ef-
fectively enforced. They had more property than other tribes;
good huts, dress and ornaments, and some store of provisions. Man-
zanet, who passed some time at the village of the Texas in 1692, ex-
pressed surprise and perplexity at their rules of marriage and inher-
itance. Had he taken the pains to inquire, he would have found
the same in all tribes of savages.
The Comanches were divided into ten clans, ,each with a chief,
and they kept separate camps, but their law forbade them to marry
in their own clan. They had a head chief over all, but their gov-
ernment was a pure democracy, and all questions were settled by a
council, either of clan or tribe, according to the importance of the
Such a council was held on the Staked Plain in 1843, to decide
upon the fate of the ambassadors sent by President Houston to in-
vite them to a treaty. About five hundred assembled, sitting in cir-
cles in a council tent. Eack speaker, as his turn came to speak, de-
livered a vociferous oration in an invective tone, but never inter-
rupted. When all who were entitled to speak (probably the clan
chiefs) had spoken except the old head chief, the interpreter
brought word to the ambassadors that all the speakers favored put-
ting them to death. But the head chief, whose time it was to speak,
remained silent, and no one moved or spoke from noon to 4 o'clock
in the evening. Either he was pondering the weighty question, or
seeking by this long silence to impress upon his audience the im-
portance of the matter before them. Whatever might have been
his motive, this long argument of silence has always impressed me,
as a notable example of mute eloquence. When he did speak, it
was in a stentorian voice and long-continued. He succeeded in
turning enough that when the vote was taken the ambassadors
In all Indian tribes, provisions were shared as long as there were
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 1, July 1897 - April, 1898, periodical, 1897/1898; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101009/m1/42/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.