What was the first European contact made with the Apache and Comanche Native American tribes? When?
What were the relationships like between the Europeans and these tribes? How did they change over time?
The Comanche tribe historically dominated the southern plains of central North America. The tribe hunted and gathered to survive, but in addition to that they raided neighboring tribes, stealing food, horses and other trade goods. They were renowned form their horsemanship and their ability to strike within a radius of hundreds of miles.
The Apache occupied much of the territory around the Arkansas river down towards the present Mexican boarder and survived on raiding and trading. Apache’s and Comanche’s were in constant conflict with one another, but the faster, more horse adept Comanche usually ruled the day.
The Comanche first made contact with Europeans during a trading event at the Taos pueblo in New Mexico. Eventually, they either destroyed other plains tribes or forced them south towards the Spanish territory of Texas.
Their effective attack range became known as Comacheria, and most people knew to keep clear of it due to the violent nature of its inhabitants. Comancheria remained under Comanche control until well into the 1800’s.
The Apache, especially the Lipan band, were forced into conflict with Spanish when Comanche raiding parties began forcing them onto Spanish lands. The Lipan resisted Christian conversion, but used this as an opportunity to move the Comanche and Spanish towards war with each other. The Spanish foolishly built a mission inside Comanche territory, which set of a wave of attacks against Spanish missions in northern Texas. This took some of the pressure off the beleaguered Lipan.
The presence of the Spanish, Apache and Comanche all living together in such close proximity resulted in a series of conflicts where alliances were created and broken throughout the 1800’s. For the most part the Spanish allied with the Comanche against the Apache since they were the more localized threat.