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By proclamation of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Saturday, September 14, 2019 has been declared Quanah Parker Day to commemorate the legacy of the famed Comanche chief Quanah Parker.
Every Texas student passing through 4th and 7th grade by now has learned the story of Quanah Parker; his mother Cynthia Ann Parker, who was kidnapped as a child and raised among the Comanches; and their lives as Texas Indians. The Comanches were called “Lords of the Southern Plains” owing to their superb horsemanship and prowess in hunting bison from horseback. In the Texas Plains Trail Region (TPTR), identified by the Texas Historical Commission as a cultural heritage region that includes 52 counties of the High and Rolling Plains, everyone can honor Quanah Parker Day by paying a visit to a nearby steel arrow sculpture that marks their county’s inclusion on the Quanah Parker Trail (QPT).
By now, most counties have placed at the foot of their QPT arrows a granite marker, cut by Wallace Monument Company of Clarendon, displaying text researched with the help of the QPT steering committee. Visitors can learn from the granite marker a unique historical fact or event associated with Quanah Parker, his family, or the Comanches and their allies who once dominated the region.
By making a visit to their county’s regional museums, or any one of the TPTR’s three state parks (Copper Breaks, Caprock Canyons, or Palo Duro Canyon State Park), or its national historic landmark (Lubbock Lake Landmark), one can discover exhibits that convey facets of Quanah’s story.
And the heart of the story is this: Every county’s land within our region was once included in the territory of the Comanches, known as the Comanchería.
The arrows of the Quanah Parker Trail and the granite markers placed beneath make visible to all that Quanah Parker and the Comanches once dominated our region.
Those wanting to attend formal events can note these on their calendar:
On Saturday, September 14:
At 10:00 a.m. the National Ranching Heritage Center of Texas Tech University will host Comanche Parker family descendants to recall the historical legacy of their great-grandfather.
(3121 4th St., Lubbock, TX 79409)
Beginning at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon in the fellowship hall of the Baptist Church in New Home, Texas, a multimedia program will be offered indoors to tell the story of Quanah Parker in our region and how he became honored by Lynn County resident Charles A. Smith through his generosity in creating 86 steel arrows to mark the Quanah Parker Trail.
(128 Smith Street, New Home, TX 79381)
At 3:00 p.m. the commemoration will continue at a location one half mile down the road, where a granite marker will be dedicated outdoors at the first arrow Mr. Smith created and installed on the grounds of the Gid Moore Crop Insurance Agency.
(127 W Broadway, New Home, TX 79381).
Descendants of Quanah Parker will confer a Comanche Blessing on this giant arrow and its granite marker that commemorates the spirit of Charles Smith and his gift of arrows that contributed so much to the region in honor of their ancestor.
For this outdoor event, please bring a folding chair, a bottle of water, and a hat.
The QPT placed within the TPTR is conceptual in nature. Counties of the TPTR installed 86 steel arrows created by sculptor welder Charles A. Smith (1943-2018) of New Home, to commemorate their inclusion in the Comanchería, the territorial range of the Comanches in the 19th century. The trail is named for Quanah Parker, as he is considered as the most renowned Indian leader who frequented this area.
And the other part of the story this: At one time or another, Quanah crossed the lands where we live now. As a warrior, Quanah rode with the Kwahada division of the Comanche tribe. The Kwahada made their home on the southern High Plains of the Llano Estacado and as well traversed the Rolling Plains of Texas in the late 19th century. Under Quanah’s leadership, the Kwahada remained the last Comanche holdouts who resisted the U.S. military’s effort to force all Indians to move onto reservations.
After the Comanches moved to the reservation in Indian Territory by the end of 1875, Quanah continued as a leader, helping them adjust to a different way of life. He was appointed as a Comanche chief by Indian agents of the federal government. Quanah coordinated cultural and political activities felt to be necessary to aid the Comanche people in adapting to the challenges of modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this capacity, he continued to travel throughout our region, by mule-drawn wagon, touring car, and train. He became a celebrity, and as a much sought-after representative of frontier history, in the TPTR alone he attended a funeral in Dalhart, addressed a crowd in Matador, attended a celebration in the town of Quanah named for him, and visited ranchers Samuel Burk Burnett in Guthrie and Charles Goodnight near Claude.
In advance of this special day, communities can honor Quanah in several ways. The site where QPT Arrows are installed can be cleared of tall growth that may obscure them from view. Weathered arrows can be touched up with paint made for metal tractors and available at local farm and feed stores, or hardware stores. Streamers of red, yellow and blue, the colors of the shield for the logo of the Comanche Nation, can be tied onto the arrows to flutter in the wind and draw the attention of travelers to the history of the region.

Quanah Parker, c. 1885. Photo by Hutchins & Lanney, Smithsonian Institution
 
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