Buffalo Hump (unknown–1870)

By: Jodye Lynn Dickson Schilz

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: September 30, 2020

The English name Buffalo Hump is evidently a euphemism for an Indian name represented in written sources in various forms, among them Pochanaquarhip and Ko-cho-naw quoip. The name had a phallic significance not precisely recorded. There were more Buffalo Humps than one. The famous one was a celebrated war chief of the Penateka Comanches. He first became prominent after the Council House Fight in San Antonio in March 1840. Outraged at the incident, he carried out a revenge raid across southeastern Texas. In August 1840 he led nearly 400 warriors and an equal number of women and children in raids on Victoria and Linnville, from where he carried off both livestock and human captives (see LINNVILLE RAID OF 1840). Texas militiamen intercepted Buffalo Hump's party and administered it a stinging defeat in the battle of Plum Creek on August 12, but most of the Comanches and their leader escaped to their camps on the upper Colorado River.

After the Linnville raid and the fight at Plum Creek, Buffalo Hump continued to resist the attempts of Texas settlers upon his people's hunting grounds. In 1844 he met with Sam Houston and demanded that the White men remain east of the Edwards Plateau. Houston tacitly agreed to this proposal, and Texas Indian agents provided Buffalo Hump with gifts to demonstrate their good will. However, the Texas government was unable to stem the flood of settlers onto Comanche lands, and so the Indians resumed their raids. In response to these attacks, Texas Rangers struck at Penateka camps, but Buffalo Hump managed to hold his own for some time. Finally, in May 1846 he led the Comanche delegation at Council Springs that signed a treaty with the United States.

As war chief of the Penatekas, Buffalo Hump dealt peacefully with American officials throughout the late 1840s and 1850s. In 1849 he guided John S. Ford's expedition part of the way from San Antonio to El Paso, and in 1856 he led his people to the newly established Comanche reservation on the Brazos River. Threats from horse thieves and squatters, coupled with his band's unhappiness over their lack of freedom and food, forced Buffalo Hump to move his band off the reservation in 1858. While camped in the Wichita Mountains, the Penatekas were attacked by United States troops under the command of Maj. Earl Van Dorn. Unaware that Buffalo Hump's band had recently signed a treaty of peace with military authorities at Fort Arbuckle, Van Dorn and his men killed eighty Comanches.

In 1859 Buffalo Hump settled his remaining followers on the Kiowa-Comanche reservation near Fort Cobb in Indian Territory. There, in spite of his distress at the demise of the Comanches' traditional way of life, he asked for a house and farmland so that he could set an example for his people. He died in 1870.

E. W. Henderson, "Buffalo Hump, a Comanche Diplomat," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook 35 (1959). John Holland Jenkins, Recollections of Early Texas, ed. John H. Jenkins III (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958; rpt. 1973). Kenneth F. Neighbours, Robert Simpson Neighbors and the Texas Frontier, 1836–1859 (Waco: Texian Press, 1975). Robert Simpson Neighbors Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Rupert N. Richardson, The Comanche Barrier to South Plains Settlement (Glendale, California: Clark, 1933; rpt., Millwood, New York: Kraus, 1973). Dorman H. Winfrey and James M. Day, eds., Texas Indian Papers (4 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1959–61; rpt., 5 vols., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1966).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Chiefs and Other Leaders
Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jodye Lynn Dickson Schilz, “Buffalo Hump,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/buffalo-hump.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 30, 2020