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The Comanche Rider


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

The ways of disposing of the Indian dead are many. In some places ground
sepulture is common; in others, the corpses are placed in trees. South
Americans mummified their dead, and cremation was not unknown. Enemies
gave no thought to those that they had slain, after plucking off their
scalps as trophies, though they sometimes added the indignity of
mutilation in killing.

Sachem's Head, near Guilford, Connecticut, is so named because Uncas cut
a Pequot's head off and placed it in the crotch of an oak that grew
there. It remained withering for years. It was to save the body of Polan
from such a fate, after the fight on Sebago Lake in 1756, that his
brothers placed it under the root of a sturdy young beech that they had
pried out of the ground. He was laid in the hollow in his war-dress, with
silver cross on his breast and bow and arrows in his hand; then, the
weight on the trunk being released, the sapling sprang back to its place
and afterward rose to a commanding height, fitly marking the Indian's
tomb. Chief Blackbird, of the Omahas, was buried, in accordance with his
wish, on the summit of a bluff near the upper Missouri, on the back of
his favorite horse, fully equipped for travel, with the scalps that he
had taken hung to the bridle.

When a Comanche dies he is buried on the western side of the camp, that
his soul may follow the setting sun into the spirit world the speedier.
His bow, arrows, and valuables are interred with him, and his best pony
is killed at the grave that he may appear among his fellows in the happy
hunting grounds mounted and equipped. An old Comanche who died near Fort
Sill was without relatives and poor, so his tribe thought that any kind
of a horse would do for him to range upon the fields of paradise. They
killed a spavined old plug and left him. Two weeks from that time the
late unlamented galloped into a camp of the Wichitas on the back of a
lop-eared, bob-tailed, sheep-necked, ring-boned horse, with ribs like a
grate, and said he wanted his dinner. Having secured a piece of meat,
formally presented to him on the end of a lodge-pole, he offered himself
to the view of his own people, alarming them by his glaring eyes and
sunken cheeks, and told them that he had come back to haunt them for a
stingy, inconsiderate lot, because the gate-keeper of heaven had refused
to admit him on so ill-conditioned a mount. The camp broke up in dismay.
Wichitas and Comanches journeyed, en masse, to Fort Sill for protection,
and since then they have sacrificed the best horses in their possession
when an unfriended one journeyed to the spirit world.

Myths and Legends

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