American Spanish, from Southern Paiute k i̵mmanciŋʷ i̵ Shoshones, strangers
First Known Use: 1806
Nomadic North American Indian group of southwest Oklahoma, Texas, California, and New Mexico, U.S. The name Comanche is derived from a Ute word meaning anyone who wants to fight me all the time. Their language is of Uto-Aztecan stock. An offshoot of the Shoshone, they were organized into about 12 autonomous bands, local groups that lacked the lineages, clans, military societies, and tribal government of most other Plains Indians. They roamed the southern Great Plains in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their staple food was buffalo meat. Their highly skilled horsemen set the pattern of equestrian nomadism on the Plains. In 1864 Col. Kit Carson led U.S. forces in an unsuccessful campaign against them. Treaties were signed in 1865 and 1867, but the U.S. government failed to keep settlers off the land promised to the Comanche, which led to violent conflicts. In the 20th century, Comanche individuals served as Code-Talkers; these soldiers used their home languages to ensure the secrecy of wartime communications and played a notable role during both World Wars. Comanche descendants numbered some 20,000 in the early 21st century.