Santa Anna (unknown–1849)

By: Jodye Lynn Dickson Schilz

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: February 24, 2021

Santa Anna (Santana), an important Penateka Comanche chief of the mid-nineteenth century and the first member of his group to visit Washington, D.C., was both a leader of Comanche resistance to Anglo settlement in Texas and then a proponent of accommodation and peace. Santa Anna seems to have had several wives and a number of children. Carne Muerto, a Comanche war leader of the 1850s, may have been his son. Santa Anna, "a large, fine-looking man with an affable and lively countenance," rose to prominence in the years following the Texas Revolution. At that time conflicts between Comanches and migrating Anglo-Texans had become increasingly frequent. Santa Anna advocated resistance to the White invasion of Comanche lands and gained prominence after the so-called Council House Fight in San Antonio in 1840. For the next five years he joined Buffalo Hump and a number of other war chiefs in conducting a series of raids on Anglo settlements. Though it is impossible to trace his movements with any sort of precision, Santa Anna probably took part in the raids on Linnville (see LINNVILLE RAID OF 1840) and Victoria in 1840 and may have been present at the battle of Plum Creek. Before 1845 he was firmly identified with the faction of his tribe that opposed accommodation with Whites. Indeed, there is no record of his ever meeting with officials representing the government of the Republic of Texas. In late 1845, however, he was persuaded to attend treaty negotiations conducted by United States officials, and by May 1846 he agreed to a treaty promising peace between his people and American citizens in Texas. In spite of the treaty, however, both sides continued to exchange hostilities. The following December Santa Anna and a party of chiefs from several tribes in Texas visited Washington, D.C. The first of his tribe to make such a journey, Santa Anna seems to have been overwhelmed by what he saw. Thereafter, convinced that continued armed resistance against the United States was suicidal, he fully supported accommodation and attempted to use his prestige to secure a lasting peace. Santa Anna's conversion reduced his prestige among his people. Perhaps attempting to regain his position, he led several raids into Mexico in 1848–49, in violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, actions which necessitated intervention by United States Indian agent Robert S. Neighbors. Late in 1849 a cholera epidemic killed over 300 Penatekas in a few weeks time. Santa Anna was one of them. Afterward, the decimated Penateka band, leaderless and demoralized, quickly disintegrated. Its remaining members joined other Comanche groups.

John S. Ford, Rip Ford's Texas, ed. Stephen B. Oates (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). Kenneth F. Neighbours, Indian Exodus: Texas Indian Affairs, 1835–1859 (San Antonio: Nortex, 1973). William W. Newcomb, The Indians of Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). 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

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

Jodye Lynn Dickson Schilz, “Santa Anna,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 24, 2021