Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 24, 2001 - Issue 32



Comanche's to Reintroduce Horses


by David Scholes Oklahoma Indian Times


 art Spirit Warrior by Terrance Guardipee

In an attempt to divert Comanche youth from drug dependency and other ills that plague many poor youth in America the Housing Authority of the Comanche Nation is going to reintroduce the horse. The horse symbolizes Comanche history and cultural values. Too often the young do not feel a connection their past (the result of years of assimilation policies) and they become easy prey for the predators of society who introduce drugs, crime and other socially damaging and self destructive behavior.

In order to combat these social problems the Comanche Housing Authority will hold an encampment for young people, director Donald Parker has announced. The encampment will reintroduce the values and traditions of Comanche culture. It is felt that this knowledge will help young people feel that they a re a part of a community and that their lives are important.

Horses will be an integral part of this encampment, tentatively scheduled for June of this year. Yong people at the encampment will learn horse management that will include breaking the horses, as well as tack, grooming, leading and tying the horse. Horse trainer Chris James will be the instructor. The encampment will include the erecting of teepees, the telling of stories, the tanning of hides, tying water drums, arrow making and learning songs. The site is not yet determined but may be near the new Comanche Nation Casino. There will be other daily activities including language classes. The Housing Authority is presently involved in planning and coordinating the event.

Donald Parker, Director of the Comanche Housing Authority and descendent of Quanah Parker, believes in looking for opportunities that will bolster the well being of his clients and community. The idea of an encampment comes from Parkerís vision and philosophy as director and leader of his people. He wants to "go beyond the front door" in assisting the clients. That is he wants to help people with basic needs in order to empower them. His long-range goal is "to make every tribal member a homeowner." Parker mentioned a number of programs the Housing Authority is using to help people including transitional housing, low rent housing, and lease to purchase agreements. He is also continually on the lookout for more opportunities that will enable the Housing Authority to better serve the people. The Housing Authorityís motto is "we will serve you better today than we did yesterday."

Parker, while keeping a look out for opportunities, learned about the Pyramid Lake Paiute, of western Nevada, and their stock of wild mustangs. The Paiute annually round up the overstocked horses and sell them at cost to native tribes and individuals. They cost $75 each, which does not quite cover the cost of rounding them up, Parker said. The Housing Authority has bought 50 of these horses.

The horses are colts, yearlings, and what are called Coming Tos. This latter horse is almost old enough to ride - it is coming to that age. The plan is to use some of these horses for the encampment, breed some, and offer the remainder to tribal members at cost of their transportation. Parker noted that Tribal Chairman, Johnny Wauqua, has expressed interest in keeping some of the mustangs near the tribal complex north of Lawton. Horses were an important part of Comanche history and the animals can symbolize pride and self-esteem.

Parker pointed out that change with the Housing and Urban Development Program (HUD) has allowed the Authority to be "flexible" and more responsive to the needs of the people. Before hand, Parker said, HUD dictated what money should be spent and how. Now the people at the community level are able to assess the particular problems and develop their own solutions to deal with these problems.

The Comanche Housing Authority received a $332,400 grant from the Office of Native Americans Programs of HUD that has made the encampment and other projects possible. It is an Indian Housing Drug Elimination competitive grant from HUD. It allows the Housing Authority to put into motion a comprehensive program with more emphasis on prevention than punishment said Lynn Wermy, author to the grant proposal.

Wermy stated that she drew on the help of a number of resources in composing the grant. These resources included tribal leaders, tribal members, the City of Lawton Housing Authority, Lawton Police Department, the Choctaw Nation, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. There were eight tribes in Oklahoma who received this grant: the Comanche Nation was the only tribe of western Oklahoma.

The grant also provides for an investigator and tribal police officer. This will create visibility and a sense of a protected environment Parker said. Methamphetamine (meth) has been a problem in some of the housing areas. This is of course a problem of poor neighborhoods through out America. Also included in the grant is money for physical improvement for safety and beautification.

The Housing Authority will continue to look for ways to help their people Parker said. He said that the tribal leaders have to be "good stewards." He also noted the need to partner with other organizations and manage the money. Parker also mentioned the importance of insight and vision as a leader.

Comanche Nation


Comanche Language and Cultural Preservation Committee




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