29 October, 2014
One of the most interesting people in U.S. history is Quanah Parker, the last chief of the country's Comanche Indian tribe. Quanah Parker was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Quanah Parker was a fierce fighter. But that ended one day in 1875, when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma and began a new, peaceful life.
Quanah's image remains strong among his people. But, sadly, part of his history is in danger of disappearing.
Quanah Parker became an activist for his tribe after the move to Fort Sill. The Indian chief soon earned the respect and friendship of other leaders, like U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
Bruce Caesar is a Pawnee American Indian. He greatly respects the Comanche. He says Quanah led them to their success in operating businesses, like casinos, while keeping the tribe's identity.
"He did an outstanding job of bringing his people into contemporary society, where now they are one of the powerhouses of the sovereign nations in Oklahoma."
But now an important memorial to that past is at risk. Quanah Parker's former home is slowly falling into ruin.
It is called the Star House. Texas cattlemen built it for Parker in the 1890s. The cattlemen were pleased with the dealings that they had had with the Comanche leader.
Wayne Gipson and his sister are now the owners of the Star House. Their uncle left it to them. Mr. Gipson says his uncle received it through a trade with Quanah Parker's daughter in the 1950s. He says Quanah's daughter left the future of the Star House up to his uncle.
".. if anything is to be done with the Star House, she felt it would be up to him, and if he would trade her a livable house for the Star House, she would go along with the trade."
Wayne Gipson says he lacks the money to repair and care for the old structure.
"We had worked towards getting some funding for it, but it is basically at a standstill currently."
Tina Emhoolah (ehm HOO lah) is a descendant of Quanah Parker. She says the Comanche Nation has offered to buy the house, but that Wayne Gipson would not sell.
"It is unfortunate that the property has deteriorated the way that it is, but the nation has made its offer; they chose not to take it."
Bruce Caesar says protecting historical objects is important. But he says the Comanche Nation should spend its money on the tribe's current needs.
"If you have some money to spend, it is better to spend it on jobs, benefits for the people, health, education, housing, food."
Tina Emhoolah regrets what has happened to the Star House but she says the history remains.
"Quanah's history is still a wonderful thing. You can own the building, but you will never own his history. The Comanche Nation, his history belongs to us."
The Comanche Nation continues to seek agreement with the owners on how to save the Star House.
I'm Caty Weaver.
This story is based on report from Greg Flakus.
Words in this Story
fierce – adj. extremely strong; violent; angry
casino – n. a business which offers the playing of games of chance (gambling)
sovereign – adj. having independent authority and the right to govern itself
standstill – n. a state in which all activity or motion is stopped
deteriorate – v. to become worse as time passes
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