In 1851, an article appeared in a German journal, Geographisches Jahrbuch (Geographic Yearbook), that sought to establish definitive connections, using language observations, among the Comanches, Shoshones, and Apaches. Heinrich Berghaus’s study was based on lexical data gathered by a young German settler in Texas, Emil Kriewitz, and included a groundbreaking list of Comanche words and their German translations. Berghaus also offered Kriewitz’s cultural notes on the Comanches, a discussion of the existing literature on the three tribes, and an original map of Comanche hunting grounds.
Perhaps because it was published only in German, the existence of Berghaus’s study has been all but unknown to North American scholars, even though it offers valuable insights into Native American languages, toponyms, ethnonyms, hydronyms, and cultural anthropology. It was also a significant document revealing the history of German-Comanche relations in Texas.
Daniel J. Gelo and Christopher J. Wickham now make available for the first time a reliable English translation of this important nineteenth-century document. In addition to making the article accessible to English speakers, they also place Berghaus’s work into historical context and provide detailed commentary on its value for anthropologists and historians who study German settlement in Texas.
Comanches and Germans on the Texas Frontier will make significant contributions to multiple disciplines, opening a new lens onto Native American ethnography and ethnology.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press