The Comanche, an offshoot of the Shoshone tribe, were a nomadic tribe in the lower Great Plains who were primarily hunters and gatherers. Horses were critical to their tribal culture, and they had a fierce and violent reputation. The Comanche had a democratic structure which featured representatives from major bands that held a council to make tribal decisions.
Around 1700, the Comanche made a break with the eastern tribes of the northern Shoshone. After the break up, the tribe migrated south into its primary domain in areas of what is now Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.
The Comanche were one of the first Native American tribes to domestic and use horses. They became excellent horsemen and used these skills to advance their abilities to procure the tribe's primary food source, the buffalo. The Comanche lived in buffalo-hide tipis and followed the migratory movements of the buffalo herds. The abundance of buffalo led the tribe into the Southern Great Plains.
The tribe grew to an estimated 20,000 people during the 1700s and 1800s. Aggression against other tribes and Mexican settlers in the area fueled much of the tribe's growth; many people were taken prisoner and kidnapped, adding to the Comanche's numbers.