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Comanche Storyteller Brings Rare History to Coppell

Coppell — The Cozby Library and Community Commons in Coppell hosted Lance Tahmahkera, a Comanche tribal member and storyteller, on Nov. 7. During the presentation, Tahmahkera described the history of the Comanche tribe, weaving in stories from his family and culture in with pictures from his family. Tahmahkera is the great-great grandson of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker.

“Stories are important in my culture,” Tahmahkera said. “Back in the past, we did not have schools, but we had stories. Families used the stories to teach the children how to live. Each story had a moral. That is how children learned how to live their lives.

“The stories that I tell are not in books. They are all passed down orally. They were shared with me as a child and throughout my adult years. I have been doing talks for 25 years, and everyone has been respectful when I come to talk about these stories. I feel like people understand how important these stories are to us.

“When it comes to history, I only know what my family experienced and taught me,” Tahmahkera said. “There is always more than one side to a historical event like the ones I discussed. I can only tell you what I learned. But those stories were used to help us have pride in the culture from which we came.”

“I am fascinated by Texas history,” Terry Danby said. “I am especially interested in the Camanche history, because they are such a powerful tribe. Quanah Parker and all of the Comanche lived by such a moral warrior code. I would like to invite someone who needs to realize that when there are different cultures there is enough in common for us to find common ground. If you want to learn some authentic history from a storyteller, rather than going on your phone and looking it up and forgetting about it later, it is nice to learn from a person. When you hear a person, seeing them face to face, you see the real value of the person teaching you the history. This gentleman has lived history, has learned history from his family, and this is a great opportunity.

“The reality is [Manifest Destiny] was the extermination of indigenous people. We owe a lot to people we displaced and hurt. And even though I was not here 200 years ago to do any of this, I still feel I am culpable to build humanity and better bridges with humanity. We need to remember that people are still people and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”

“I like the story about the buffalo,” attendee Rosemary Tarleton said. “I like how they used that story to teach children to be humble. I was impressed by the number of stories. It is interesting that the children were taught by the stories. These stories lasted many generations. I work at a school, so it is interesting to see how the children learned. I would encourage young people to come to these programs.”

“Lance Tahmahkera was here last year. People were very interested.” Rennah Degenfelder, a library clerk, said. “So many people were interested in Mr. Tahmahkera’s presentation that they increased the number of books in the library about the Comanche and Native American storytelling.

“This is a wonderful example of living history. It is wonderful to read a book, but it is much better to see it come alive. I enjoy hearing the stories that have been passed down. It is very special.”

November is Native American Heritage Month.