The Life of Ten Bears


The Life of Ten Bears

Comanche Historical Narratives

Collected by Francis Joseph Attocknie
Edited and with an introduction by Thomas W. Kavanagh

252 pages
1 genealogy


May 2016


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

May 2016


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

May 2016


$65.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Life of Ten Bears is a remarkable collection of nineteenth-century Comanche oral histories given by Francis Joseph “Joe A” Attocknie. Although various elements of Ten Bears’s life (ca. 1790–1872) are widely known, including several versions of how the toddler Ten Bears survived the massacre of his family, other parts have not been as widely publicized, remaining instead in the collective memory of his descendants. Other narratives in this collection reference lesser-known family members. These narratives are about the historical episodes that Attocknie’s family thought were worth remembering and add a unique perspective on Comanche society and tradition as experienced through several generations of his family.

Kavanagh’s introduction adds context to the personal narratives by discussing the process of transmission. These narratives serve multiple purposes for Comanche families and communities. Some autobiographical accounts, “recounting” brave deeds and war honors, function as validation of status claims, while others illustrate the giving of names; still others recall humorous situations, song-ridicules, slapstick, and tragedies. Such family oral histories quickly transcend specific people and events by restoring key voices to the larger historical narrative of the American West.

Author Bio

Francis Joseph Attocknie (1912–84) was the great-great-grandson of Ten Bears. Thomas W. Kavanagh is the author of Comanche Ethnography: Field Notes of E. Adamson Hoebel, Waldo R. Wedel, Gustav G. Carlson, and Robert H. Lowie (Nebraska, 2008) and The Comanches: A History, 1706–1875 (Nebraska, 1996).


"The Life of Ten Bears provides such a wealth of information regarding Comanche raids and rituals from this era that it should prove of immense value to researchers for decades to come."—Steven Sielaff, Great Plains Quarterly

“Native historical accounts are the ‘holy grail’ for scholars working in borderlands or colonial contact situations. Kavanagh’s editing of Francis Joseph ‘Joe A’ Attocknie’s collection of the historical narratives of the Comanche Ten Bears will prove invaluable for scholars and edifying for readers.”—Lance Blyth, author of Chiricahua and Janos: Communities of Violence in the Southwestern Borderlands, 1680–1880

The Life of Ten Bears will quickly become required reading in a range of disciplines and will be enjoyed by a broad, popular readership. It is a treasured addition to historical narratives authored by members of Native American communities in the twentieth century.”—Daniel Swan, curator of ethnology, Sam Noble Museum, University of Oklahoma

Table of Contents

Introduction by Thomas W. Kavanagh    
The Dated Narratives
1. The Life of Ten Bears · ca. 1790–1872    
2. Peace with the Kiowas · ca. 1825    
3. Uhta Hookne: The Robe Entrenchments · 1837    
4. Nahwakatahnohpetuhupu: When the Enemies Camped Together · 1838    
5. Piakoruko’s War against the Apaches · 1840    
6. Where the Comanches’ Saddle Packs Were Captured: Isakwahip’s Tragic Victory · ca. 1845–50    
7. The Badger’s Mirror · 1855    
8. Disaster in Coahuila · 1856    
9. The Red-Striped Saddle Blanket · 1856    
10. The Battle at Little Robe Creek · 1858    
11. Wutsuki · 1858    
12. Tuhtahyuheekuh Evens the Score against the Osages · 1868    
13. Onawia Takes a New Wife and Goes to Mexico ·1868    
14. Buckskin Charlie versus Kiowas and Comanches · July 1868    
15. The Battle of the Washita · November 26, 1868    
16. The Battle of McClellan Creek · September 24, 1872    
17. The Battle of Adobe Walls · 1874    
18. The Last Sun Dance, the Last Raid · July 26, 1878    
The Undated Narratives
19. Esitoya’s Loyalty    
20. Pukumahkuh’s Two Escapes    
21. The Pukutsinuu: The Comanche Contrary Warriors    
22. Mubsiihuhtuko: The Peaceful Nephew    
23. A Fight between Cavalry and a Comanche War Party    
24. Attocknie Gets Half a Scalp    
25. A Cripple and a Blind Man Form a Friendship    
26. Violation of a Dance Ground    
27. Pohocsucut and the Two Kiowas    
28. The Mule    
29. Querherbitty    
30. Comanche Pictographs    
31. Miscellaneous Religious Matters    
32. Fragmentary and Incomplete Narratives    
Appendix: Lexicon    

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