Quannah, My Son © Anne Tatalin 2000-2003

(The Not Always Funny Account of a Middle Aged White Woman Who Suspects She was the Mother of a Commanche Indian Chief)

A young girl with light brown hair, a blue checked dress and white apron plays in the high grass with her younger brother. The sky is blue, just enough breeze to keep the heat from being stifling. In the not too far off distance men are working on the fort, finishing, building and rebuilding. The girl carries a cloth doll. The little boyís face is dirty. A brown brimmed hat keeps the sun from his face. He practices throwing stones for distance from a log that he and his older sister have come to sit upon. I notice his shirt is pretty dirty and yellowed. Pioneer life has itsí price. I am not certain what year it is, but it is definitely the 19th century. I am not certain where this is, but it feels like the western part of the country. I do know that I am that little girl. From behind us a living hell breaks loose. I see parts of a newly constructed settlement through smoke that wasnít there just a little while ago. There is yelling-- an assortment of screams. I see my mother running toward me telling us to go, to run and not to look back. I remember her tear streaked face and long skirts. I am afraid to look back! Itís Indians! I know it is. I hold onto my doll and I take off. I am vaguely aware of my brother running beside me. I never see him again. I never see any of them again. People have died back there. I donít know whom. I know it doesnít matter. Iíll never go back there again. I am running stillÖ

I was 8 years old when I had that dream. For a long time I thought it was the by-product of too much Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie Books. Except that I have never forgotten this dream. Not one detail. And then thereís the fact that I have always felt very unfinished when I think of this dream. Too many questions. When was this? What happened to that little girl running by herself all-alone on the prairie? What did that dream mean? I did not lay awake night after night trying to make sense of this one. It did not become an unhealthy obsession. I moved on. Soon I came to recognize it as a past life recall but often would question why other past life recalls felt complete and this one did not. When would the other information come to me?

It was not a recurring dream. I had the dream only once. But thought of it through the years. No, this is not a joke. Now Iím not a card-carrying member of the New Agers and Earth Changes Club. But Iíve attended a few of their meetings. I carry with me mostly traditional Christian beliefs with a few others tacked on. I read my horoscope, smudge my house, carry crystals and believe in reincarnation. If God is good and loving and I am made in his image I donít want to think that after one feeble and much bungled attempt at this thing called life I am going to be flung into some burning pit. I have a hard time imagining that the same God who took such great care in creating me, cell by cell, and could find me so dispensable. Call me arrogant, but I think I have more than one shot at heaven. I donít much care for the concept of channeling, but I do buy into dream interpretation. Automatic writing scares me to death and does most of what I hear about past-life regression.

My opinion is that if it is time for you to know about a past life; God will bring it to you. Thatís how I came to know at the age of 39 that I had been the mother of a Commanche Indian Chief.

I did dream work before I knew I was doing dream work. My mother, an ultra superstitious Eastern European woman, paid great attention to her dreams and often warned us at the breakfast table of some impending doom. It was never as grim a picture as my mother painted; but she was usually on the right track. Yeah, she was overly dramatic; but it was through that drama that I learned the power of a dream and the powerful messages of a dream.

For example, it was through a dream that I learned I was a soldier in the Revolutionary War in the battle of Bunker Hill. I woke up knowing this as well as I knew my name. To this day I can feel the beat of my heart in my chest, the pump and rush of adrenalin knowing I was going into battle. In the dream I was a 19-year-old male. In the dream I marched in formation with the others more ready for battle than anything ever before in my life. In real life I was approximately 11 years old and a little girl. I did not know then as I do not know now whether or not I was mortally wounded or if I lived to tell children and grandchildren about the great battle. I know that in the mind of that 19-year-old soldier what lay beyond the battlefield did not matter. And so I never had any unanswered questions about this past life. I felt as though I knew as much as God intended for me to know.

I tend to think of my childhood as mostly normal. I liked to read about the dinosaurs, mythology, astronomy, and sharks and oh, yesÖ. I liked Indians. There was this large book with color photos in it in the library at Concord Elementary School library. It was called ďGreat North American Indian ChiefsĒ. There were full-page size color illudstrations of each Indian Chief and a short biography on each one. I kept the book checked out for most of the third grade. I read about Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce Indians and about Quannah Parker. Okay, as you may have guessed by now I read about Quannah Parker over and over and over again. I stared at his picture. I knew I was not of Indian descent, not even one tiny percentage. But I could not for the life of me explain the connection I felt to this man. It was love; there was no doubt about it. Not romantic love, but love nonetheless and pride. It was a burning in my chest. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I would just look at the picture and read over and over about the Commanche Indians in East Texas.

I soon left Concord School for another when we moved and left my Indian book behind. I donít even remember thinking about Quannah Parker again until I was 38 years old. At this time I co-owed a small business with a friend. She had a good heart and was somewhat of an obsessive shopper. Her good heart allowed her to dispose of items she really had no need for but felt inclined to purchase nonetheless. One day while at her home pouring over the books she looked up and asked me, ďDo you like pictures of Indians?Ē I paused. I paused because I imagined this garish collection of Indians with headdresses upon black velvet backgrounds. Not exactly my taste. I told her, ďHmmm...if you have a picture of Quannah Parker Iíll take it.Ē Now old Quannah was a respected chief, but hardly a household word. I figured it would be highly unlikely that anyone out there was reproducing pictures of Quannah in the 1990s. I thought wrong. For on the bottom of the stack of Indian pictures was a drawing of Quannah with the caption, ďQuannah Parker, Commanche Indian Chief. Undefeated in battle.Ē That night we put Quannah up on the wall just above my computer.

Less than a year later I had closed my business under very bad circumstances, ended my friendship with my partner and moved. A few months later I was putting up pictures in our new home and asked my oldest daughter where Quannah Parker was. She was silent for a moment. Then she told me it was one of the things that she did not manage to bring in those few last harried loads from the townhouse. That summer was long, hot and depressing. I was out of work and money was short. I felt badly about not having my drawing of Quannah, but I didnít necessarily dwell on it. At one point that summer I went to the library to see if I could locate any information about him after all these years. What I found in my local library would forever change my life. It would answer the questions of that young dream of a little girl fleeing on the prairie, it would explain much in terms of a young girlsí heart bursting as she gazed at the photo of the proud chief.

Quannah Parkerís eyes were gray. They were gray because his mother was not an Indian at all. She was Cynthia Ann Parker who had been abducted by the Commanche when they raided Parkerís Fort in the mid 1830s in east Texas. Cynthia Ann Parker was but a child. She was raised with the Commanche and took a Commanche warrior for a husband. He became a chief and together they had a son, Quannah, who had his motherís gray eyes. Quannah took her name. She bore her Indian husband two other children.

Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter Prairie Flower were found on the plains some years later gathering flowers and berries by a group of white men who upon discovering that Cynthia was not an Indian insisted she come back to civilization with them. They did not permit her to leave. Prairie Flower died of influenza that winter and Cynthia Ann Parker starved herself to death, heartsick over the separation from her Indian husband and children.

Quannah Parker was a forward thinking man. He was never defeated in battle but nonetheless knew when to put down his battle-ax. It is written that Quannah was instrumental in persuading his people not to pursue war against the Calvary and instead consider the reservations and villages set up for the Indians in Texas. Quannah served as a judge on such a reservation.

He had many wives; to this day his descendants are many. He was a major stockholder in the Texas railroad and became a very wealthy man. He was my son.

Authorís Note: I have received various commentary on this piece since writing it almost four years ago. None tickled me as much as this entry in the guest book at my website:

Good item to read about great-great-grandpa. Grandma said itís all accurate. Were leaving this message to thank you. Quannah Parkerís descendants are many because he left behind a whole gang of Indian men who live up at the Thousand Islands across from Canada but they regularly get in pick-up trucks and go out finding beautiful white women to have kids for them/hence.
Darren Merlin

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This page was created May 7, 2003.