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"Help Selecting Indian Tribe" Topic

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Gone Fishing20 Apr 2017 6:39 a.m. PST

Hello gents, I'm hard at work on my new project, Wild West skirmish in 54mm, and could use a little guidance. There's a good chance we will locate our games in a fictional location "somewhere out west," but there are elements that are "musts" for me. One of them is banditos, so our fictional location shifts southwest (I also like adobe, cactus and the excuse to serve Mexican food, shots of tequila, Modelo Negra…). So far so good. Perhaps we are in Texas, New Mexico…

My trouble is with the Indians. The obvious choice would be to go with the Apache or similar. The hitch is I much prefer chaps in bonnets, warpaint, on horses with teepees in the background. So my question is this: is there a plains-style tribe that was active that far south? On a certain level I'm fine with telling the pedants to go pound sand, that it's only a game, etc., but there's a part of me that would leap at the chance to say, "Ah, these fellows are loosely based on the _____________, don't you know."

Yes, I realize the plains tribes hunted buffalo, grazers, and that those fine animals didn't choose to loiter in waterless deserts. I know all that. It's the look of the tribe I'm after, not their livelihood. Any thoughts?

I suppose I could shift my location north, but there really must be banditos, and I'm rather partial to adobe…but the Apache just don't do it for me…

Any help would be much appreciated!

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 6:54 a.m. PST

Commanche ranged over the Great Plains, as far as eastern New Mexico, so you could use them as your model. They'd have more the look you are after. Personally though, I'd go with Apaches.

KPinder20 Apr 2017 6:56 a.m. PST

If you're prepared to tell the pedants to take a flying leap,…you can't go too far wrong if you fall back on John Wayne/John Ford's classic, The Searchers. Facing an Indian raid their first suspicions were "Caddos or Kiowas." But the great fear, "Tribe Who Must Not Be Named," they were all unwilling to consider was, the Comanche.

The Opponents in John Huston's 1960 The Unforgiven, were Kiowas.


Cosmic Reset Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 6:57 a.m. PST

Comanche? Seems like they would fit the requirement almost perfectly.

Edit: Too slow.

Oh Bugger Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 7:02 a.m. PST

The Comanche were a terror to Texas and New Mexico and to the Apache for that matter. They were Plains People and adopted the feather bonnet from the Sioux with whom they traded horses.

Don't know what scale you want but in 15mm no one makes Comanche although QRF do supply the Buffalo horn caps that many Comanche liked.

I seem to recall that someone makes Comanche in 25/28mm. Hope that helps.

Gone Fishing20 Apr 2017 7:43 a.m. PST

This is definitely an "I love TMP" moment. Thank you all for your quick (!!!) responses.

Nascati: Your preference for the Apache makes perfect sense; they would be a classic antagonist in this setting. The trouble is I just don't like their "look."

The Comanche sound perfect, just perfect. Feathers? Warpaint? Horses? Incredibly anti-social? Done. It's always nice when history is cooperative with one's desires, isn't it? I actually do plan to read-up on my Indian history/lore (reading some of their myths now), but this saves me a good bit of time.

Oh Bleeped text: I generally game in 54mm, so those fellows would be a mite small. I actually plan to use generic plains types from Marx, Jean Hoeffler and so on: lots of feathers (probably far too many warbonnets, but I love them) and the occasional very silly pose, but close enough for my needs. Thanks for the suggestions, though!

Atomic Floozy20 Apr 2017 8:08 a.m. PST

Comanche and Kiowa often raided into Mexico and New Mexico.

The Lipan Apache were originally a plains tribe that were driven off of the plains into Mexico by the Comanche. They retained much of their plains dress until late 19th century as they began to adopt more of the dress of the Mescalero & Kickapoo.

Late 19th century war bands were often a mix of Comanche, Kiowa & Southern Cheyenne.

Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 8:09 a.m. PST

Make up your own tribe. Could be a splinter tribe that could be composed of both Comanche and Apache outcasts or something… best of both worlds!

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 9:12 a.m. PST

You can add Comancheros to liven up the look al la John Wayne

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

Atomic Floozy knows her stuff on the southern Indians. Can't go wrong following her advice on this topic.


Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 10:32 a.m. PST

Here are some Comanches that you may want to use: link

As an aside, I have had a number of Comanche and Kiowa students over the years and members of both tribes are proud of their warrior traditions. In fact one of my current student's great uncles is a medal of honor winner: link

As for the Apache, many members of a number of other tribes in this area still fear Apache "medicine men" and suspect them of being skin walkers.


Gone Fishing20 Apr 2017 12:12 p.m. PST

I greatly appreciate the further input.

Atomic: that's very helpful information. Thank you!

Star Games: the chances are high that this is exactly what I'll do, though I still find it nice to have a historical reference.

Paul: I'm embarrassed to admit that at this point I'm not even sure what the Comancheros were. I'll be sure to look them up shortly and try to find out which film they're in. Many thanks!

Kevin: your aside is well taken. Proud they should be, no question. Warrior peoples are often the most interesting, at least in some respects. Love the bit about the modern Apache – it's fascinating how old beliefs can cling (and I'm not being dismissive of them, by the way). Thank you.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 12:18 p.m. PST

The silly poses with Marx figures can always be ascribed to war dances or stepping on a rattlesnake…

Yeah, Comanches seem to be the ticket. I'd use them myself for this setting, if I wasn't so lazy and ill-inclined to paint all that regalia, classic though it is. So for purposes of simplicity, I've stuck with Apaches. Also fewer horses that way. But who knows, maybe in the future the Comanches lurk, in tandem with those Cheyennes and Kiowas.

I painted up one of those Marx types myself not long ago:



But he was given away, along with his "totem pole", as a gift.

Choctaw20 Apr 2017 1:09 p.m. PST

Comanche and Kiowa were the dreaded raiders of Texas. The Apache not so much.

Gone Fishing20 Apr 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

Piper, I might just have to steal that explanation for some of the balletic poses favoured by a few of the big scale manufacturers. Several of the most delightful are in this pack:

Your Indian, totem and teepees are/were very well done. Was that totem made by Marx? I'll have to get my hands on one of those. Thanks so much for sharing!

Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 2:29 p.m. PST

"I'm not even sure what the Comancheros were. I'll be sure to look them up shortly and try to find out which film they're in."

That's easy! The film is titled The Commancheros. In addition to John Wayne, it features Michael Ansara, one of my favorite movie "heavies" from that era.


Atomic Floozy20 Apr 2017 3:23 p.m. PST

Comancheros were bands of renegade traders made up of Mexicans, whites, & various Indian outcasts. They traded with the Indians throughout New Mexico & West Texas.

While the film "Comancheros" is a decent Western, it is woefully inaccurate. Comancheros also appear in the film "Outlaw Josey Wales."

They usually set up shop in various canyons such as "Yellow House Canyon" near Lubbock & "Palo Duro Canyon" near Amarillo. Sometimes trading went sour if the Comanche or Kiowa discovered a member of an enemy tribe among the Comancheros such as an Ute or Navajo.

Mackenzie mounted an expedition in the summer of 1872 which resulted in the discovery of the major routes the Comancheros were using to foray into Texas to steal cattle & trade with the Indians. The expedition culminated in late September with a victory over the Comanche at the Battle of McClellan Creek on the north fork of the Red River.

Gone Fishing21 Apr 2017 6:31 a.m. PST

AF: Thanks very much for the excellent information. As my project will be very much of the "Reel Old West" variety, the Wayne film will likely be just the thing. I do plan to read up on the actual history, however, one of these days.

Thanking you kindly, ma'am! (Tips hat and clinks off to find saloon…)

Atomic Floozy21 Apr 2017 7:35 a.m. PST

Doing "Reel Old West" is fun, but there is usually a sliver of history in those old films. The battle scene in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" was based on Mackenzie taking the pony herd in the battle of Palo Duro Canyon; the film "Rio Grande" is loosely based on Mackenzie's campaign into Mexico to attack the Lipan; numerous films are based on events surrounding the Little Big Horn.

Once you do start reading the history, you will find some of it is better than the films. For instance, the book Cheyenne Autumn is much more interesting & covers more events than the film.

Gone Fishing21 Apr 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

You are perfectly right, AF. I'm sorry if the above came across as flippant; my degree and a good deal of my livelihood have been in history of one sort or another, and it's true that the real thing is without exception better than anything Hollywood does with it.

Without wanting to sound like I'm contradicting the purpose of my initial question, I must admit to having a growing attraction to alternate history as I grow older. Most of our games these days are strictly fictional, with either literature or films as their inspiration – and good fun we've had with them, too – but I'm aware it can make one sound rather bubble-headed. Thank you for your patience and the excellent information you've provided! I'm genuinely grateful.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member21 Apr 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

Gone Fishing,
I believe that totem pole came with a bunch of pre-painted Indians based on the Marx sets but not the originals; it came quasi-prepainted, is what I recall; mine was repainting by me in places but mostly left as is. I've also seen pre-painted totem poles similar to that one made by… Papo? European.

The teepees also came from various toy sets, roughly pre-painted, and I goosed them up a bit; also some bark canoes that are OK for 28mm.

I remember back in the day, as kids there was always a joker who took the soldier being shot, or in some sort of contortions (meant to be dangling form barbed wire, or on a stretcher?), and made that figure the commander. He would be "General Fits" or "Major Seizure."

Gone Fishing21 Apr 2017 5:25 p.m. PST

I appreciate the information, Piper. When I get to painting up my Indians I'm going to have to get a totem pole and a few teepees – I like the look of those by Marx.

I'm currently finishing up my cowboys and prepping my table for some spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle. Should be good fun!

Thanks so much for the help!

Early morning writer21 Apr 2017 11:18 p.m. PST

A second for Empire of the Summer Moon. Comanche fit your bill in all respects in my opinion. And I'm proud to be a 'bubble headed' gamer by getting just as much – or more – inspiration from the Reel World. But I love reading about the real world, too.

Hmm, do we have a new title for we type of gamers, "Bubbleheads"? I like it, delightfully disrespectful while wistful – and misleading to the uninitiated. Fun.

Gone Fishing22 Apr 2017 8:38 a.m. PST

EMW: I appreciate the book recommendation – I'll put it on the list of future reads (which is growing higher with each passing day).

Regarding "Reel History" and bubble-headedness, I suspect we're brothers in this. Thank you for the kind words!

gisbygeo22 Apr 2017 10:47 p.m. PST

Weren't totem poles from the Northwest tribes? (As opposed to nomadic plains groups)

Atomic Floozy23 Apr 2017 4:38 a.m. PST

Yes, totem poles were from the Northwest & not found on the plains. The playsets also included Eastland Indian canoes and sculpts as well. Also, plains Indians were predominantly mounted and the playsets had very few Indians on horseback.

Atomic Floozy23 Apr 2017 4:54 a.m. PST

A popular misconception (thanks in part to Hollywood) is that the Chihuahuan Desert is barren. The buffalo grazed into Mexico and there were adobe buildings as far north as the Texas panhandle.

oabee5123 Apr 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

A possibility for the name of your fictional tribe would be the Hekawis, among the stars of the old 1965-67 TV show "F Troop." Say "Where the heck are we?" out loud to see the origin of the tribal name. Purists, however, would point out that the locale for Fort Courage in the show was Kansas, which doesn't quite match up with your southwestern leanings.

Although the show played fast and loose with historical accuracy (it was a slapstick comedy, after all), some episodes (but not many!) reflected actual events or "authentic 19th century Army protocol."

Gone Fishing23 Apr 2017 2:28 p.m. PST

Oabee: Now that is the sort of thing I love. I've never seen "F Troop", but I will have to track it down. The Hekawis sound like exactly the sort of threat my project needs. Can't thank you enough for the tip!

Henry Martini23 Apr 2017 4:07 p.m. PST

The real tribal name was of course sanitised to maintain the moral purity of 1960s TV viewers.

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