Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
- Colorado History -
When the people of the plundered camp discovered that their horses had been taken, a force of perusers set out to overtake the raiders. Sometimes they succeeded in doing this; more often they failed. Those who were driving the horses had so many fresh animals to choose from that they had the distinct advantage over those following them, each of whom had only a single horse to ride in pursuit.
Upon their return, a man who had preformed a deed of noteworthy bravery would be sent out to ride ahead of the line. The whole camp would come out a short way from the village and welcome them. They would most likely dance all night, and perhaps keep dancing for two days and two nights.
Death of a Cheyenne Warrior
The quality most highly esteemed among the Indians of the plains was courage. It has been said the most notable achievement of an Indian was the taking of the scalp. This simply is not true. Among the Plains tribes, to kill an enemy was good so far as it reduced the numbers of the hostile party, but otherwise the act was regarded as relatively unimportant.
Likewise to scalp an enemy was not a notable feat and in no sense especially creditable. If scalped, the skin of the head was taken merely as a trophy, something to show, something to dance over, a good thing, but no great importance. However, to touch the enemy with something held in the hand, or with the bare hand, was proof of bravery - a feat which entitled the man or boy who did it to the greatest credit.
When an enemy was killed, each of those nearest to him tried to be the one to reach and touch him, usually by striking the body with something held in the hand. Those who followed raced up and struck the body. Anyone who wanted could take the scalp.
Cases are often told of where, when the lines of two opposing tribes faced each other in battle, some brave man rode out in front of his people, charge upon his enemy, ran through their line, struck one of them, and then turning and riding back, joined his own party.
It was evidence of bravery for a man to go into battle carrying no weapon that could harm at a distance. It was more creditable to carry a lance than a bow and arrows; a hatchet or war club than a lance; and the bravest thing of all was to go into a fight with nothing more than a whip, or a long twig- called a coup stick.
The Cheyennes counted coup on an enemy three times; that is to say, three men might touch the body and receive credit, according to the order in which this was done. The Arapahoes touched four times. When the Cheyennes were allied with the Arapahoes (which they often were) during a fight a total of seven coups could be counted, causing great confusion during the battle.
In the great battle that took place on Wolf Creek in 1838, between the allied Kiowa, Comanches, and Apaches, on the one hand, and the Cheyennes and Arapaho on the other, coup was counted on Yellow Shirt, a Kiowa, nine times. When the charge was made on the Kiowa camp, Yellow shirt was fighting on foot and was touched three times, but not seriously injured.
Later, he reached his village, mounted a horse, came out to fight, and was touched three times on horseback. Almost immediately afterward his horse was killed and his leg broken, and he sat on the ground still fighting by shooting arrows, and was again touched three times and killed.
So in all coup was counted nine times on Yellow Shirt, all of which were allowed. In another case coup was counted nine times on a Pawnee, who was not killed and finally got away.
The Cheyenne Social Club:
- Colorado History In Depth
Colorado's Role in the US Civil
Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes
More Colorado History
Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000
Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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