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The Comanche Commercial Sphere (CEC)

When the Spanish assumed control of French Louisiana, one of the officers retained in service was the former Lieutenant Governor, Athanase de Mézières.  Stationed for decades at Natchitoches and keenly aware of the emerging politics of the Indians on the southern plains, he made this observation about the bold Comanches in 1770:


“They are a people so numerous and so haughty that when asked their number, they make no difficulty of comparing it to that of the stars.  They are so skillful in horsemanship that they have no equal, so daring that they never ask for or grant truces; and in the possession of such a territory that, finding in it an abundance of pasturage for their horses and an incredible number of cattle which furnish them raiment, food, and shelter, they only just fall short of possessing all of the conveniences of the earth, and have no need to covet the trade pursued by the rest of the Indians whom they call, on this account, slaves of the Europeans, and whom they despise.”


This Comanche confidence came from understanding where they were in the hierarchy of the plains.  They were, above all else, the principal horse breeders and traders.  By the 1770s, this nomadic tribe had become the great horse suppliers to Indians of the Northern Plains, especially Pawnees, Cheyennes, and Kiowa.  They also supplied mules, donkeys, and horses to the farming tribes along the eastern periphery of the Great Plains: Ponca, Kansa, Iowa. Numunu trade influence ranged from British Columbia to Florida.