The horses that the Comanche Indians of North America rode were Spanish, according to a scientific study that has just been released. The investigation investigated all kinds of records to conclude that these animals arrived in the great plains of the current United States from the south, where the settlements founded by the Spanish were located. And this happened long before the arrival of other European settlers.


“We are known as ‘Lords of the Plains’ and we are part of the Shoshone tribe. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, we moved away from our Shoshone kin to the northern plains and then south in search of a new home& rdquor ;, says the website of the Comanche Nation, one of the oldest indigenous peoples. the territory of what is now the United States.

The Comanches, according to their own presentation, migrated “across the plains, through Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma”, finally settling in southwestern Oklahoma. “The horse was a key element in Comanche culture.. The people mastered their skills on horseback and gained a huge advantage in times of war,” in his words.

This characteristic of the Comanche culture is again relevant now, when an international group of researchers presents a study, magazine cover Sciencewith Surprising facts about when Spanish-descended domestic horses entered the lives of Native American people.


According to the team, led by anthropologist William Taylor, from the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA), and which includes researchers from the Lakota, Comanche and Pawnee nations, these indigenous cultures of the Great Plains (great plans) North America and the Northern Rockies would have integrated the horses that dispersed from the territory of present-day Mexico, at the latest in the first half of the 17th century.

The authors chose todirectly analyzing historical specimens of ancient horse specimens, rather than relying on colonial records, with which until now it was taken for granted that the animals spread throughout the American West in the late 17th century.

Analyzes of archaeological remains of these animals, from the Great Plains and northern Rockies, included osteological, genomic, isotopic, radiocarbon, and paleopathological evidence. The results revealed that the first North American domestic horses show a strong genetic affinity with the Spaniards, indicating a European origin.

The pack animal company

The article suggests that equine populations they would have expanded north from Spanish settlements in the American Southwest long before other Europeans arrived in the region in the 18th century, during a period of “disturbing social changes & rdquor; among the natives.


To learn about their living conditions at that time, SINC consulted William Taylor about the link and role that pack animals played among local ethnic groups.

“Our project demonstrates that horses were integrated into Native societies at least as early as the 17th century in much of the western United States and that they were mostly of Spanish origin & rdquor;, emphasizes. Furthermore, he points out that “prior to that time, other pack animals played an important role in the Americas, especially camelids such as the llama and alpaca in South America, and domestic dogs in much of the Great Plains”. .

More than three centuries later, different views of these phenomena come together to try to explain them with less bias. On how the different perspectives enriched this interdisciplinary study, Taylor argues that, “applying a wide range of techniques from the archaeological sciences & rdquor;, they were able to certify not only what the first integration of horses was “much earlier than Western researchers thought& rdquor;but also to value “aspects of horse handling by the natives & rdquor;, such as “veterinary care and riding, through osteology, diet and movement, based on isotopes”.

In turn, the tribal historian of the Comanche Nation, Jimmy W. Arterberry, highlights “the respect and debate between the interdisciplinary research team & rdquor;, as, in his opinion, “allowed for a rich and meaningful cooperation, as demonstrated by the results & rdquor;.

They changed with time

Another relevant fact is that, thanks to ancient DNA studies, the work shows how the “change in the social scenario of the Americas& rdquor; influenced the horses, who were acquiring “stronger traits of British descent & rdquor; over timeexplains the main author.

Although the researcher highlights: “Perhaps our most important discovery is that Archaeological discoveries, in this case, validate the oral traditions of many of our collaborators, such as the Comanches.whose traditions suggest they bred horses before their long migration to the southern plains in the 18th century.”

The Comanche spokesperson agrees with Taylor: “Oral tradition is the most effective means of communicating lifestyles and cultural trends within Comanche history itself.”

However, continues Arterberry, “it is very important, in this era, to produce written, photographic and audiovisual documentation, with interpretations from within the culture, to share and communicate with each other and with the world in general”. For the spokesperson, having a place in the dissemination of what his people are, as well as sharing their historical narratives, “are also imperative for the continuation of their own culture, for the sake of memory”, and values ​​”the incorporation of initiatives of modern science & rdquor;.

In this case, “The analysis performed alongside the oral history accounts confirmed and improved our understanding of the arrival of the horse in Native American culture,” adds the representative of the Comanche community with a presence on the team.

An animal linked to culture

Regarding the traditions of the native peoples, Taylor explains that “for the majority of horse enthusiasts around the world, horses are not only part of the past, but also part of the present and the future, because they play a role not restricted to transport, economy or ecology, but are also present in ceremonies, beliefs and culture& rdquor ;.

For this reason, “archaeology can help us to appreciate the antiquity and value of equestrian traditions as sources of stability, healing and community that must be protected and nurtured”.

How can this age-old knowledge of native and indigenous peoples be incorporated more regularly into scientific knowledge?, is the question posed to the main researcher of the study. ”This type of collaboration needs to start at the beginning: enabling indigenous communities to help decide which questions should be considered and why& rdquo;, he responds.

Arterberry concludes: “The main reasons for keeping tradition alive includes perpetuating the knowledge of who we are and where we come fromrespect life in all its forms, praise our ancestors for sustaining life, and thank the creator for giving it to us& rdquor;.

Reference article: https://www.agenciasinc.es/Noticias/Los-caballos-espanoles-entraron-en-las-Grandes-Llanuras-antes-que-los-europeos

Reference study: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adc9691

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Contact for the Environment section: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es