Christmas Brides: One Hundred Comanche Maidens To Be Sold At Auction

I study and collect all the information I can on America’s Native Americans, especially on the plains tribes. In my research for my novel set in North Texas in the late 1860s, I came upon this article printed in the Baltimore Sun in Dec. 22 1901.  I hope you find it interesting.

CHRISTMAS BRIDES: One Hundred Comanche Maidens To Be Sold At Auction

Great Wedding Festival: Rival Suitors Will Bid Against Each Other For the Coveted Girls—How the Sale Will Be Conducted.

The Comanche Indians who live on a reservation in Oklahoma are planning a great wedding festival to take place on Christmas Day. One hundred. Brides will be sold to the highest bidders, after which a great wedding dance and feasting will follow.

  This is the first time that the Comanches have ever held one of their sacred wedding dances on Christmas Day, and it is said by their agent, Major Stouch, that the reds are celebrating Christmas because they think it will please President Roosevelt.

The Comanches held their last wedding festival one year ago, when 50 young women 3were sold to the highest bidders. Some of the squaws brought as much as $250 in cash, while 15 or 20 ponies was a common price.

These wedding festivals are conducted by the chief of the tribe, Quanah Parker. All of the young women of marriageable age who have not been “spoken for” by young braves are turned over to the chief, and he makes it well known among the bucks that on a certain day he will sell at auction;n the young women who have attained the age of 18 and whose parents are no longer willing to support them. In the Christmas sale of brides, no men except those of the tribe are allowed to bid,

Quanah Parker, chief of the Comanches, denounced the custom to President Cleveland and promised to have it abolished among his people, but he is taking a lively interest in the approaching sale and has from time to time ween fit to buy eight wives himself. For one—Mrs. Toonuly—he paid $700, or its equivalent, in 70 ponies at $10 each.

The Indians prepare weeks in advance for such an event. The women to be sold are placed in a stockade of tepees, surrounded on all sides by stern old squaws who have passed through the sale once and whose Indian nature thirsts to revenge itself upon others.

The young women are well fed, subject to occasional visits from young men who are planning to buy them. Otherwise, they are left to contemplate their fate. Many of them attempt to escape, but this only makes it worse for them, as they are sold first and allowed to go to the highest bidders who are generally rough.

The young man among the Comanche Indians is considered rich not by his bank account or his land holdings, but by his number of wives and their beauty. A young brave having five beautiful squaws is a member of the Comanche aristocracy and has carte blanche to all social events of the tribe, while the poor unfortunate [man] with but one squaw to do his bidding is quite trashy indeed.

Quanah Parker, by far the most diplomatic of all Indian chieftains alive today started when young and has now eight wives, He owns a large farm structure built in Southern style, not far from Darlington Oklahoma, and it is there the big sale will take place.

In summer Mr. Parker and his eight wives take up their residence in the tepees but in winter they live in his $25,000 mansion. Parker wears a blanket and breechcloth among his people; in Washington he is clothed in. broadcloth and pat. Patent leathers, Besides his wealth of wives, he owns a great of jewelry. including one pearl necklace costing $12,000. This he wears while acting as leader of their medicine and war dances.

Two years ago an old squaw named Lightning Arrow dies and left her curse upon all the unmarried women of the Comanches. She had been married to a white man, Willis Haymes, a cowboy, who beat her to death, The white man was assassinated that night and his heart cut out and burned but the curse of Lightning Arrow remained.  Try as they would, the medicine men could not remove it, The young braves offer up all kinds of blankets, saddles, spurs, and even ponies to the White Father through their medicine man, but the stain was branded deep and seemingly forever,

Two weeks ago Comanche Jack and another medicine man went into the woods on Medicine Creek and announced they were to have a special conference with the Great Spirit. Upon their return, it was given out that a great wedding festival to take place on Christmas Day,

As a matter of fact, the Indian medicine men admitted to their agent that certain young braves had paid them to reach the decision. Quanah Parker’s daughter, who was about to marry a white man, is also indirectly responsible for the festival.

Jennie Parker is a young Comanche girl barely 16. She was engaged to marry a white farmer near the new town of Lawton, She is an educated woman who has attended Eastern schools. She had her wedding clothes prepared and her father had all but given his consent.

Wild Horses, a Comanche warrior of wild reputation, was desperately in love with beautiful Jennie Parker and he induced the medicine men to order the sale so he might win or buy this maiden, She is in despair.

The auction ceremony is unique in itself. All of the young women to be sold are taken before the medicine council three days before the auction day for inspection.

When the appointed day arrives, the young women march to the place of auction and stand in a row, The braves are allowed to pass along by them and pass judgment. The auctioneer then takes the first in line and offers her. He cries her name, age, family history, and good qualities. Then he extols her charms until the young men grow enthused and commence bidding.

 Very often two bitter enemies will bide for one squaw; then the bidding is fierce and reckless. The woman brings twice her value under such circumstances and is apt to be roughly treated by her owner as he blames her for attracting his enemy,

After all the women have been sold a big dance takes place and for several days the braves and squaws make merry.