The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 38
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
On the Southern Plains in the mid-18oos, all frontier societies, Indian
and non-Indian alike, participated to some extent in the practice of tak-
ing and trading captives. Comanche women, children, and old men
were held hostage by Anglos, for instance, during and after the 1840
Council House confrontation in San Antonio. Most of the Indians' cap-
tives were Mexican, including mestizos and Indians of various groups
from south of the Edwards Plateau and deep into Mexico; some were
Anglo and German Texans. The Indians seemed to prefer, in order,
young males, young females, and middle-aged females, with adult males
considered least controllable and older females least helpful to the aim
of increasing the population. Men and older women of enemy groups
encountered during raids were more likely to be killed outright.
The statuses of captives taken by Indians were various and changeable.
Some were used soon after their capture for the public performance of
triumph or revenge and were tortured or killed during post-raid dances.
Others were enslaved and made to tend to equipment or the horse
herds. As chattel, captives could be exchanged for guns, knives, horses,
plugs of tobacco, cloth, and other items. The annual trade fair held at
Pecos in 1808 between the Spanish and Comanches, typical of a long
regional tradition, was called a "ransom" by one Hispanic observer.
Later, the New Mexican Comancheros pursued the lucrative business at
standard locations such as Cafion del Rescate ("Ransom Canyon"),
Yellow House Canyon near present-day Lubbock, Texas. The New
Mexicans who ransomed captives from the Indians held them as their
own property until compensated by the captives' families or government
officials. The captive trade was also conducted intertribally, particularly
between Apaches and Comanches.6
Prisoners who were deemed trustworthy, open to learning Indian cul-
tural ways, and tough enough to cope with nomadic life might be adopted
or married instead of ransomed, and they and their offspring could even
rise to high status. Examples include the Comanche warrior His-oo-san-
ches ("the Spaniard"), who greeted the 1834 Dragoon Expedition record-
ed by artist George Catlin, whose name is recognizable as "Jesus Sanchez,"
D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001), 926, 928; Melburn D Thurman, "On the Identity of
the Chariticas [Sarii Rikka]: Dog Eating and Pre-horse Adaptation on the High Plains," Plains
Anthropologist, 33 (May, 1988), 164-165, Morris E. Opler, "Lipan Apache," m RaymondJ. DeMalhe
(ed.), "Plains," vol. 13 of Wilham C. Sturtevant (ed.), Handbook of North Amencan Indians, 944.
5 Donaly E. Brice, The Great Comanche Razd (Austin- Eakm Press, 1987), 21-26; Kavanagh,
Comanche Politzcal History, 339-341, 406-410; Hugh D. Corwin, Comanche and Kiowa Captives zn
Oklahoma and Texas (Guthrie, Oklahoma: Cooperative Pubhshing Company, 1959).
6 Wallace and Hoebel, The Comanches, 241-242, 259-264, 271; Charles L. Kenner, The
Comanchero Frontier: A Hstory of New Mexican-Plazns Indian Relations (Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 1969), 62-63, 93-96; J. Evetts Haley, "The Comanchero Trade," Southwestern
Historical Quarterly, 38 (Jan., 1935), 157-176.
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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/m1/56/: accessed August 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.