The costumed figure behind the glass display case at Bur’s Lakewood restaurant is not the legendary Comanche warrior Tonto.
Standing in front of the tall case that’s located between the restaurant’s large dining room and the Forest Room, there is an eerie resemblance to the opening scene of the recently released “Lone Ranger” movie when a young boy encounters the “Noble Savage,” Tonto, inside a San Francisco carnival sideshow tent.
Instead, this “under cover” artifact represents a different Comanche: Quanah Parker—last chief of the Quahada Comanches.
There’s no resemblance, though, to Clover Park High School’s Ancient Warriors. They’re a local organization of former CPS athletes.
Instead the chief was designed about 15 years ago by Roger Hamel, who’s best known around this region for his taxidermy talents.
Taking time out from work at his Bridgeport Way business, he said that, about 20 years ago he created about 4,000 pieces of Indian art. Most of those pieces depicted mountain men, squaws, children and warriors.
Besides the Lakewood location, Hamel’s figures are displayed in gift shops and restaurants in Germany, Norway, Sweden, and even Paris, France. More than 1,000 Native American-style masks were made for Japanese clients.
Hamel takes pride in these “Vanquished Warriors.”
“Everything is handmade, from the beadwork to the leather clothing.”
He said that he saw his “thoroughly researched craft as a way to bring these legends of Plains Indians back to life.”
In addition to the Parker figure, Hamel also has designed works around Two-Gun White Calf. The Indian’s profile is featured on the Buffalo-Head nickel. The coin was recently taken out of circulation.
Parker, Hamel adds, was designed around a replica mask of the legendary Quahada warrior. The warrior’s history is cited as inspiration for the film, “Dances with Wolves.” More information about Parker can be found at the Texas State Historical Society’s website www.tshonline.org.