At the age of nine, Cynthia Parker, the mother of Quanah, was abducted by the Comanches from her parents homestead on the Texas frontier. Then as a teenager she married one of the tribal leaders, Peta Nacona. Cynthia learned to speak the Comanche dialect, and she adapted to their lifestyle. Quanah was born in 1847. His birth was followed by the birth of a brother named Pecos, and a sister named Topsannah. Cynthia Parker was very happy with her family.
Raids and counter-raids between the Texas Rangers and the Comanches were occurring on a regular basis. Then, in December of 1860, twenty-one cavalrymen and forty rangers attacked the Nacona band encampment where Cynthia Parker and Quanah Parker lived. At the time, Peta and Quanah Parker were with the other men hunting buffalo. They returned to find their camp burned, corpses lying everywhere, and the survivors were in a state of shock. To make things worse, the Texas Rangers had recognized Cynthia, as the girl that had been abducted years before. The Rangers returned Cynthia and Quanah's sister Topsannah to the Parker family. Cynthia attempted to escape several times. Then, when she realized that all was hopeless she starved herself to death.
At about the same time, his brother would die from European diseases, and the father Peta would die from an infection. Quanah was now alone in the world and he hated the white Europeans. He soon joined the Kwahadis who were by far the most militant of the Comanche bands. Quanah Parker and his new people refused to participate in any treaties. By, the 1870's, the Kwahadis began fighting a fierce guerrilla war against cavalry troops led by Colonel Ranald Mackensie. At this time the army believed that the demise of the Plains Indians was imminent because the white buffalo hunters were shooting their way south. The hunters had left the prairie littered in rotting carcasses. They only wanted the hides. All of the buffalo in Kansas had been killed. It was only a matter of time before the Indians basic food supply would be destroyed.
The Cheyennes, Comanche, Kiowas, and Arapaho all held a was party. Led by Quanah, 700 warriors attacked 28 white hunters at Adobe Walls, Texas. However, the hunters had powerful long range guns with telescopic lens and they easily won. Mackensie and his men would fight more than 2 dozen skirmishes with Quanah. He and the Kwahadis surrendered at Fort Sill on June 2, 1875. At the time, there were only 2,000 Comanches left. The Kwahadis were the very last group to surrender.
Quanah knew very little English. However, on the reservation he was still recognized as the leader of the Comanches. Over the next 20 years Quanah traveled frequently to Washington D.C. on behalf of Indian rights. There he met with several United States Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt. Quanah Parker and Roosevelt would eventually become close friends. Also, Quanah was appointed chief judge for the Court of Indian Offenses, became a deputy sheriff, and was also elected president of the local school district. He also negotiated very profitable leases from cattlemen. At the time of his death on February 22, 1911 he was considered the most wealthy Indian in America.