The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 37
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"Every Day Seemed to be a Holiday"
restoring populations through adoption. In addition to the more con-
tinual hazards of nomadic life, the Comanches faced epidemics of
smallpox in 1816, 1839-1840, 1848, and 1861-1862, and cholera in
1849. Chronic warfare also would have encouraged the absorption of
outsiders as a kind of insurance against future attack, under the
assumption that enemies would avoid raiding a camp where their kins-
men were living as hostages or adoptees, though this strategy was an
imperfect one, since rescue attempts or revenge were alternate reac-
tions. Well-developed fictive kinship customs such as the common
extension of sibling and grandparent terms to non-kin allowed for the
easy public expression and confirmation of adoptive relationships.
Exogamy (the practice of marrying out of a social group-family, band,
or tribe) was another tactic that, even when meant to enhance
alliances, trade, or personal prestige, would also result in increasing a
home population, as would the functionally similar practices of mar-
riage by capture and wife-absconding. Images of the captive were there-
fore prevalent throughout Plains Indian cultural expression: members
of the Crow military societies abducted each other's wives during a brief
annual season of license to show their rivalry and bravado; among the
Kiowas and Comanches, a captive woman was selected to fell the tree
for the center pole of the Sun Dance; and so on.3
Across the Plains there were also instances in which entire groups
from one linguistic entity affiliated with others because of some per-
ceived advantage. The joining of the Plains Apaches with other tribes,
most intensively the Kiowas, after about 1700 is one instance of this pat-
tern. There is some evidence to suggest that the Comanche population
absorbed Athapaskan elements prior to the mid-18oos, and refugee
Lipan Apaches combined with Tonkawas in north central Texas in the
188os. Tribal evolution on the Plains was fluid, belying simple notions of
societal boundaries, and within this atmosphere exogamy and the habit-
ual procuring of captives become more understandable.4
Ernest Wallace and E. Adamson Hoebel, The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1952), 149, 298, 321; Thomas W. Kavanagh, Comanche Political
History: An Ethnohistorical Perspective, 1706-1875 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996),
331-332; Thomas Gladwin, "Comanche Kin Behavior," American Anthropologist, 50 (Mar., 1948),
80; John H. Moore, The Cheyenne Nation: A Social and Demographic History (Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press), 251-263; Karl N. Llewellyn and E. Adamson Hoebel, The Cheyenne Way
(Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1941), 178; E. Adamson Hoebel, "The Political
Organization and Law-ways of the Comanche Indians," Memoirs of the American Anthropological
Association, no. 54 (Menasha, Wisconsin: American Anthropological Association, 1940), 50-55;
Robert H. Lowie, The Crow Indians (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), 186-192;
Leslie Spier, "The Sun Dance of the Plains Indians: Its Development and Diffusion,"
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, 26, part 7 (192 1), 467.
4 Morris W. Foster and Martha McCollough, "Plains Apache," in Raymond J. DeMallie (ed.),
"Plains," vol. 13 of William C. Sturtevant (ed.), Handbook of North American Indians (Washington,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/55/: accessed September 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.