Re: Budgets as cultural documents <debate>; Comanches,

thomas w kavanagh (tkavanag@INDIANA.EDU)
Mon, 19 Feb 1996 13:46:52 -0500

On Mon, 19 Feb 1996 wrote:

> were there similar efforts by other groups to be included in the
> Comanche "budget?"

Let's try this one again. Certainly there was manipulation, and it went in
several ways, both efforts at inclusion, and efforts at exclusion. One of
the problematics for Comanche political leaders, who depended upon
Euroamericans for the prestige goods representative of their positions,
and subsequently for subsistence gifts which could be redistributed, was
that the way young warriors established themselves was through
redistributions such as the Shakedown dance, which in turn required the
"production" of wealth. For them, the primary mode of production was
negative reciprocity: raiding. However, raiding often lead to
complications for the principal chiefs, whose positions were in part
dependent upon good relations with Euroamericans.

A common statement by chiefs was "we cannot control the young men." This
had several dimensions. On the one hand, it reflects the tautological and
situational nature of social power: one has power over those who can be
influenced in certain was; where such influence does not exist, there is
no power. At the same time, it was a statement of political relations: a
Yamparika chief had no power over a Kotsoteka warrior. Finally it was a
statement of Comanche culture: there was a distinction between the public
and political and the private and domestic: the problematic for the
chiefs was to pursuade their young men that raiding, a private matter,
had public ramifications.

Meanwhile, as long as there were at least two Euroamerican groups on the
Southern Plains, the Comanches could play off one against the other(s).
However, by 1865 there was essentially only one, group, and the former
politics became obsolete. Indeed, it may be argued that the Comanche
"surrender" was much more a series of political decisions to seek new
resources in the Anglo world than it was the result of military defeat.