This story is based loosely on true events. I grew up in an area of Texas where the Comanches once roamed and lived and a story of a girl taken captive and integrated into the band is one I heard in about Fourth Grade. I was fascinated by her story and read the book based on her life multiple times in middle school.
Her English name was Cynthia Ann Parker and her Indian name was Nadua, which means "Found Person." She was captured when she was about 9 and then recaptured by whites when she was around 34 in 1860. In the intervening years, she'd married the chief of the tribe and given him three children, one who was the last "great" Comanche chief, Quanah Parker. She and her two year old daughter, Topsanna, were returned to her white family and lived with them the rest of their lives. She was never reunited with her husband, Pete Noconca. Topsanna died three years later of pneumonia and out of grief for her lost family, Nadua stopped eating and died seven years after her daughter. The common consensus was that she died of a broken heart and her son, Quanah, stated that his father died of a broken heart as well.
It wasn't unusual for a man to take many wives but Pete Nocona only ever had Nadua. The Comanche people weren't big on passing down much in the way of history, but that is something that Quanah was proud of, that his father loved his mother that much, so we have that record. Quanah and Nadua are buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
The rest of it, the "Indian stuff," I did some research on. I hit Wikipedia and a few other sites on the internet and found information about the courtship rituals which was typically a man having someone take a gift to the girl's father in his place. I found it interesting that as fierce as the Comanches were, when it came to girls, the boys were really bashful (Seriously, check it out on Wikipedia.) I got the information about birth and what their tipis (and even the spelling) from Wikipedia.
I didn't want to write more or go into a lot of detail about the tasks that they would have performed because I would rather not do it than do it poorly. As it is, I'm hesitant about the stuff I have written. I made assumptions that they married young since it was a point of pride for a Comanche warrior to die young so I had my characters married at 14 and 16. As soon as a girl knew how to properly care for a family, she was deemed a woman. Since they started training at around 12, with basic training starting much earlier, I believe she could be there by 14. A boy was considered a man when he returned from a vision quest.
All told, I find Native Americans fascinating. There's a museum in my home town that has some pretty cool displays about them and I've been a couple of times. They never seem to tell as much about the social aspects, though, and that's what I really want to know. So, I hope you all enjoyed my little story and maybe it'll inspire you to read up on some stuff. At the very least, I recommend the Wiki articles on Comanches and Cynthia Ann Parker and the novel Where the Broken Heart Still Beats about her "rescue."
In my head, Bella was taken at 9, married at 14, mother at 15 and again at 16, and recaptured around 25. I put Piatseena/Jake at two years older, for those of you who asked.