Monday, January 4, 2010

a book review

I've just finished reading "The last Comanche Chief - The life and times of Quanah Parker" By Bill Neeley.

I enjoyed the read and found it very interesting.

Quanah's mother was Cynthia Ann Parker (Naduah) captured at age nine by Quahada warriors and recaptured by Texas Rangers at age 34. Fully a comanche, she didn't adapt, tried to escape several times and after her third child caught influenza in 1863, and died of pneunomia, she stopped eating and died in 1870.

Peta Nocona was Quanah's father - he led the Noconis band of the Comanches. Quanah was born in 1850.

Quanah grew up as a free comanche , by his teens he was leading raiding parties. In the 1870's the plains tribes were losing the battle against the enroachment upon their lands. In 1875, the last tribe of the Staked Plains, under Quanah's leadership came in. Quanah, in his late 20's now, accepted that the old ways were gone and endeavoured to create opportunities for his people. Quanah embraced much of western culture but not monogamy or christianity. He had five wives and twenty five children and founded the Native American Church which practices the Peyote religion. He also had a town named after him, met presidents and continually applied for more resources for his people. They say that the times produce the people and Quantah had the qualities needed at the time.

It is impossible to understand their situation from our perspective. To have grown up free and to see your world and everything that you cared about lost and changed, into something alien and disturbing - the shock must have been great. To actually survive that is a miracle.

Our tupuna also went through the same process. From the brilliant "The Welcome of Strangers", Atholl Anderson
"In two decades from 1844-64, Ngai Tahu were left with one acre out of every thousand acres they had once owned."
It just doesn't seem that long ago. Different indigenous peoples met the wall of colonisation in different ways. All tried to survive and make the best situation for themselves and their people. We all have a lot in common.
We must look to today, whilst holding our past and future close. We must look to the people - all of the answers are there. The challenges we all face are not just for our 'leaders' to shoulder. We need more people power. We need it within our iwi and we need it within our country.

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