Comanche Ethnography


Comanche Ethnography

Field Notes of E. Adamson Hoebel, Waldo R. Wedel, Gustav G. Carlson, and Robert H. Lowie

Compiled and edited by Thomas W. Kavanagh

Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians Series

571 pages
20 photos, 8 figures


October 2008


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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October 2008


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the summer of 1933 in Lawton, Oklahoma, a team of six anthropologists met with eighteen Comanche elders to record the latter’s reminiscences of traditional Comanche culture. The depth and breadth of what the elderly Comanches recalled provides an inestimable source of knowledge for generations to come, both within and beyond the Comanche community. This monumental volume makes available for the first time the largest archive of traditional cultural information on Comanches ever gathered by American anthropologists.

Much of the Comanches’ earlier world is presented here—religious stories, historical accounts, autobiographical remembrances, cosmology, the practice of war, everyday games, birth rituals, funerals, kinship relations, the organization of camps, material culture, and relations with other tribes.

Thomas W. Kavanagh tracked down all known surviving notes from the Santa Fe Laboratory field party and collated and annotated the records, learning as much as possible about the Comanche elders who spoke with the anthropologists and, when possible, attributing pieces of information to the appropriate elders. In addition, this volume includes Robert H. Lowie’s notes from his short 1912 visit to the Comanches. The result stands as a legacy for both Comanches and those interested in learning more about them.

Author Bio

Thomas W. Kavanagh is an assistant professor of anthropology and a museum administrator at Seton Hall University. He is also the Consulting Anthropologist of the Comanche Nation and the author of North American Indian Portraits: Photographs from the Wanamaker Expeditions and The Comanches: A History, 1706–1875, the latter available in a Bison Books edition.


"Dr. Thomas W. Kavanagh has once again made a valuable contribution to Comanche scholarship with the publication of Comanche Ethnography."—R. Michael Barnett, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"Thomas Kavanagh deserves commendation for making these notes available to others in such a well-organized, contextualized, and useful format."—William C. Meadows, Great Plains Research

"Aside from the scholarly service this work provides, Kavanagh's rigorous compiling and editing show what can be done with archival sources, which is an encouraging thought."—Mariah F. Wade, New Mexico Historical Review

"Thomas Kavanagh has accomplished a significant achievement in presenting an important set of ethnographic field notes in a compelling and easily accessed manner. . . . [Comanche Ethnography] is a seminal ethnographic resource that will be appreciated by members of the Comanche Nation, anthropologists, historians, and academic and popular students of Native American studies."—Daniel C. Swan, Journal of Anthropological Research

"Comanche ethnography is undoubtedly a significant contribution to the study of the Comanche. The presentation of these resources is useful not only for the data found in the field notes themselves, but also in considering how ethnographic research is conducted and used in the construction of ethnographic texts."—Abby Wightman, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Comanche Ethnography is a praiseworthy piece of scholarship that will doubtless become a mandatory reference on the pre-reservation Comanches."—Joaquín Rivaya-Martínez, Ethnohistory

Table of Contents

List of Photographs
List of Figures
The 1933 Field Party Notes
Herman Asenap, June 30-July 1
Notes on a Comanche Funeral, July 1
Quassyah, July 5
Niyah, July 6
Rhoda Asenap, July 7
Niyah, July 7
Herman Asenap, July 7
Niyah, July 8
Niyah, July 10
Post Oak Jim, July 11
Post Oak Jim, July 12
Rhoda Asenap, July 12
Post Oak Jim, July 13
Post Oak Jim, July 14
Post Oak Jim, July 17
Post Oak Jim, July 18
Post Oak Jim, July 19
George Koweno, July 21
Post Oak Jim, July 24
Post Oak Jim, July 25
Niyah, July 25
Unidentified Consultant, Undated
Frank Chekovi, Undated I
Post Oak Jim, July 26
Frank Chekovi, Undated II
Niyah, July 27
Howard White Wolf, July 31
Nemaruibetsi, July 31
Nemaruibetsi, August 1
Howard White Wolf, August 1
Frank Chekovi, August 2
Howard White Wolf, August 2
Frank Chekovi, August 3
Howard White Wolf, August 3
Frank Chekovi, August 4
Howard White Wolf, August 4
Atauvich, August 7
Nemaruibetsi, August 8
Post Oak Jim, Undated
Atauvich, August 9
Frank Chekovi, August 10
Frank Chekovi and Pedahny, August 11
Unidentified Consultant, August 10–12
Herkeyah, August 13
Herkeyah, August 14
Herkeyah, August 15
Frank Moetah, August 16
Quassyah, August
Rhoda Asenap, Undated
Post Oak Jim, Undated
Tahsuda, Undated
Frank Chekovi, Undated III
Norton Tahquechi, Undated
Teneverka, Undated
Nemaruibetsi, Undated
Herkeyah, Undated
Howard White Wolf, Undated
Ohataipa, Undated
Unidentified Consultant, Undated
Notes on Dances at Walters and Apache, Undated
Lowie’s 1912 Field Notes
Sources of Ethnographic Information in Hoebel (1940)
Sources of Ethnographic Information in Wallace and Hoebel (1952)
Sources of Ethnobotanical Information in Carlson and Jones (1940)
Comanche Lexicon

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