Following the life and times of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker

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According to his accounts, Quanah Parker was born in Elk Valley of the Wichita Mountains near Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in 1848. Quanah Parker would be the last war chief of the Quahada Indian tribe, later becoming the peacetime leader of Oklahoma’s Kiowa and Comanche reservation. He was said to be one of the most affluent Native American leaders of his time.

Quanah Parker Trail was established to cover 52 counties throughout the High Plains area known as the Comancheria during Chief Parker’s era. The trail is markered with more than eighty 22-foot steel arrows, including one at the city limits of Pampa. The arrows serve as a reminder that these were the lands of the Native American tribes of the Comancheria. The creator of the arrows marking the course, Mr. Charles Smith, was adopted by Chief Parker’s great-granddaughter and given the Indian name Paaka-Hani-Eta meaning Arrow Maker for his efforts. For information about the trail as well as an arrow, visit Quanahparkertrail.com. Other honors of Chief Parker include Quanah Parker Day, established in Texas in September 2019 to be celebrated on the second Saturday of September each year. To learn more about events happening each year on Quanah Parker day and his living descendants, visit QuanahParkerday.com.

In June this year, the Quanah Parker Society and Center held Quanah Parker Medicine Mounds Gathering, a four-day event celebrating the history culture of the Comanche people and early settlers of Quanah and Medicine Mound, Texas. This four-day event included concerts, 1k/5k races, camping, a sweat lodge, guest speakers on this history and culture of the area, as well as guided tours of Medicine Mound. For future events, visit quanahparkermedicinemounds.com. The society was established by Quanah’s great-grandson Ron Parker. According to the website, the Quanah Parker Center will be opening this month at 123 S. Main Street, Quanah, Texas. To become a member of the Quanah Parker Society or to donate, visit quanahparker.org.

One of the most significant places involving Quanah Parker is the Star House. His two-story home was built on what is now an artillery range on Army base Fort Sill. For many years Chief Parker with his family lived on the then reservation land in teepees. He had petitioned several times for government assistance to build a better dwelling but was denied help each time by the government. So, cattleman Samuel Burk Burnett, owner of the 6666 ranch, funded the building of Star House with the assistance of the other cattlemen leasing the reservation land for cattle grazing. While living in Star House, Quanah and his wives took in many children and entertained prominent guests such as Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Goodnight, and Apache medicine man Geronimo. After Quanah’s death in 1911, the home was passed to his daughter Neda Birdsong. She lived in the home until 1956, when the home had to be relocated due to the expansion of Fort Sill. The Army moved the house to the roadside near Cache, Oklahoma. During this time that Mrs. Birdsong sold the home to preserve it to Herman Woesner, who then had the house moved for a second time a few miles to his land to become part of an amusement park called Eagle Park in Comanche County, Oklahoma. The park featured tours Star House as well as other historical buildings relocated to the property. Eagle Park closed in 1985. Since then, Star House has fallen into disrepair due to its private ownership. Star house is currently listed as one of Oklahoma’s most endangered historic places. Attempts to preserve the home are still trying to be established with the current owners.

Quanah Parker was laid to rest next to his mother, Cynthia Parker, at Oak Mission Cemetery in 1911. Befitting his status, Chief Parker was laid to rest in full ceremonial garbs with a considerable amount money. In 1915 grave robbers desecrated his grave. August 9, 1957, he was relocated to Chief’s Knoll at Fort Sill’s military cemetery. During the second internment, Chief Parker was laid to rest with full military honors.

During his lifetime Chief Parker was a significant figure in the Red River Wars. He was one of five chiefs that were part of Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration parade. After relocating to the reservation lands in Oklahoma, he encouraged the tribes to become self-sustainable by learning to farm and helped establish tribal schools. He became a prominent rancher during this time. To help better assimilate to the situation by founding relationships with prominent cattlemen of the time to help curb the use of reservation lands by ranchers and provide fresh beef to the tribe by those ranchers using the land. In 1902 he was named Deputy Sheriff of Lawton, Oklahoma.

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