LIMESTONE COUNTY, Texas —
Texas will be honoring the "Lord of the Plains," Quanah Parker, Saturday in the first observance of Quanah Parker Day.
One of many celebrations across the state will take place at Old Fort Parker in Limestone County at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a proclamation declaring the holiday in June.
The proclamation credited the Comanche chief for leading "the transition of his people from a traditional, nomadic way of life to their acceptance of a settled existence in the late 19th century."
Sarah McReynolds has been the site director at the Old Fort Parker historical site located between Groesbeck and Mexia for more than 20 years.
McReynolds said when she found out about the holiday, she reached out to the Parker family about possibly putting together a program, and the family requested for a program to be held at Fort Parker.
“You need to have Quanah Parker Day there. That’s where his mother is from. You need to have it there and honor him and his mother,” McReynolds said.
Quanah Parker’s mother, Cynthia Anne Parker, is known as the most famous Native American captive in U.S. history.
She lived at Fort Parker as a child in the 1830s until she was captured when her family’s fort was raided by Native Americans. She was then raised as a Comanche and adapted to their way of life.
“When she was on the plains she married a man named Peta Nocona. She had Quanah where there were spring flowers blooming, so she called him Quanah, which means fragrance,” McReynolds said.
Quanah Parker grew up to become a Comanche chief, leading the resistance against white settlements in the plains until his people transitioned to reservations. McReynolds said Quanah adjusted to the Anglo Saxon way of life to an extent.
Parker learned English and became a statesman and cattle rancher. He even befriended three presidents of the United States.
He fought for the education of children, especially Native children. He also helped save and protect Texas' bison population.
“He took his mother’s name, but he always kept his long braids and he always kept his religion, and he always stressed that we get along," McReynolds said.
To emphasize unity, the Quanah Parker Day program at Old Fort Parker will be a day of sharing. Attendees are welcome to share pictures, articles and stories to honor Parker's legacy.
Also, some people plan to bring genealogy charts to compare their genetics to the Comanches and Parkers.
“They’re all actually related in a way. And that’s the point of this whole story. Everybody is related eventually down the line,” McReynolds said.
McReynolds said teaching the next generation about Quanah, the Fort Parker raid and other Texas history is important.
"Children need to realize that even up to a 100 to 200 years ago, two different cultures clashed, they learned to get along and they made the best of it," McReynolds said. "We're all meant to live together in peace."
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