The Comanche became the dominant tribe on the southern Great Plains in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are often characterized as “Lords of the Plains” and, reflecting their erstwhile prominence, they presided over a large area called Comancheria, which came to include large portions of present-day Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas.
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Decimated by European diseases, warfare, and encroachment by Americans on Comancheria, most Comanches were forced into life on the reservation; a few however sought refuge with the Mescalero Apaches in New Mexico, or with the Kickapoos in Mexico. A number of them returned in the 1890s and early 1900s. In the 21st century, the Comanche Nation has 17,000 members, around 7,000 of whom reside in tribal jurisdictional areas around Lawton, Fort Sill, and the surrounding areas of southwestern Oklahoma. The Comanche Homecoming Annual Dance takes place annually in Walters, Oklahoma, in mid-July.
The Comanche language is a Numic language of the Uto-Aztecan family, sometimes classified as a Shoshoni dialect. Only about 1% of Comanches speak this language today.
The name “Comanche” comes from the Ute name for the people: kɨmantsi (enemy). The name Padouca, which before about 1740 was applied to Plains Apaches, was sometimes applied to the Comanche by French writers from the east.