The Comanche Indians are a large tribe of American Indians, and were one of the strongest and most dominant Native American tribes in American history. During the tribe's peak they controlled much of the southern plains in America, and fiercely opposed the settlement of the territory by Europeans and other Native American tribes. Today they reside mostly in Oklahoma.
Originally part of the Shosana tribe, it is thought that the Comanche Indians broke off from Shosana in the late 1600s or early 1700s to form their own tribe. The tribe's numbers and the amount of land they controlled were both small at first, but with the introduction of the horse to the Americas by Europeans, Comanche territory quickly spread. By 1750, the Comanche Nation controlled much of The Great Plains, ruling over the entirety of what is now Oklahoma as well as parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Texas and Arizona. Between its scope of territory and population, which some place at more than 45,000, the Comanche were one of the most dominant and powerful of Native American tribes.
During its period of expansion the Comanche often feuded with, and defeated, other Native American tribes such as the Apache and Ute. The tribe would also occasionally fight alongside Europeans if the common enemies were other tribes.
Its massive size was in fact part of the Comanche downfall, as the tribe, which included large armies of horses, required too many natural resources to remain sustainable. With food and shelter running low, the Comanche could no longer defend against American settlers looking to move into the land as well as Spanish buffalo hunters and rival Indian nations such as the Fox tribe. Add to that the decimating effects of Western-brought diseases such as smallpox and measles, and the Comanche Indians began to see a rapid population decline.
By 1850, there were less than 10,000 Comanche Indians remaining, and the tribe's territory was shrinking more and more ever day. The American Civil War brought a temporary respite, but after the conflict ended the Comanche were soon engaged in a war against the entire U.S. army. When the Comanche surrendered to the U.S. forces in the 1870s its total population was 1,500.
The Comanche Indians now reside in and around a Lawton, Oklahoma, reservation. The modern-day Comanche Nation of Oklahoma is responsible for determining who can rightfully claim membership to the Comanche tribe, and works to preserve the cultural heritage of the Comanche people.