Mow-Way (unknown–1886)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: April 1, 1995

Updated: December 2, 2020

Mow-way, a Comanche headman, was the leader of the Kotsoteka ("Buffalo-eater") band during their last years of dominance in West Texas. His name was thought to have meant Shaking Hand or Hand Shaker, but his son, Ti-so-yo, later claimed that it more accurately meant Push Aside. Apparently a warrior of some renown, Mow-way once killed a grizzly bear with his knife after the animal had attacked a hunting companion in eastern New Mexico. As a memento he wore one of the bear's claws in his scalplock. Though Mow-way signed the Medicine Lodge Treaty in October 1867, during the late 1860s he raided frontier settlements in Texas and in the vicinity of Santa Fe. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's winter campaign of 1868, particularly Maj. Andrew W. Evans's Canadian River expedition in December, prompted him to surrender to the military authorities at Fort Bascom, New Mexico. Mow-way and several other Comanches were subsequently sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for a brief confinement for past raids before being returned under guard to Fort Sill, Indian Territory, in June 1869. When Mow-way's guards got drunk along the way, the chief continued on to Fort Sill and turned himself in to Col. Benjamin Grierson. The astonished commander promptly turned him over to the new Quaker agent, Lawrie Tatum. Mow-way left Fort Sill and rejoined his band on the Llano Estacado. Though some sources say that he generally favored peace with Whites, he did not want to be under government control and thought that living conditions on the reservations were worse than outside of them.

After the Salt Valley Massacre in May 1871 Mow-way and his Kotsotekas became more closely associated with the hostile Quahadi band, led by Parra-o-coom (Bull Bear) and Quanah Parker. He was among the Indian leaders pursued without success by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie in the fall of 1871. Mow-way attended the council in 1872 with Capt. Henry Alvord at Fort Cobb. While he was away at these meetings Mackenzie's troops attacked his village near the North Fork of the Red River on September 29, 1872, and took 124 prisoners, mostly women and children. Mow-way moved his beleaguered camp near the agency and remained until the release of these captives the following spring. There followed a short period of peace, but at the outbreak of the Red River War in the summer of 1874, Mow-way and his band hid out at Palo Duro Canyon, where they again battled Mackenzie's Fourth United States Cavalry in late September. After retreating south into the Quitaque country, Mow-way and 200 followers received the delegation led by Sgt. John B. Charlton and Dr. Jacob Sturm and surrendered to Mackenzie at Fort Sill on April 28, 1875. On the reservation Mow-way was among the leading candidates for principal chief of the Comanches before the federal authorities selected Quanah for that position. In 1878 he abdicated his chieftainship and settled with his family on a farm south of Fort Sill. There he succumbed to pneumonia in 1886 and was buried in an unmarked grave at the foot of South Arbuckle Hill, three miles east of his homestead.

Robert G. Carter, On the Border with Mackenzie, or Winning West Texas from the Comanches (Washington: Eynon Printing, 1935). James L. Haley, The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1976). Bill Neeley, Quanah Parker and His People (Slaton, Texas: Brazos, 1986). Wilbur Sturtevant Nye, Carbine and Lance: The Story of Old Fort Sill (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937; 3d ed. 1969). Wilbur Sturtevant Nye, Plains Indian Raiders (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968).


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Chiefs and Other Leaders

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Mow-Way,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995
December 2, 2020