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Counting Coups and Fighting for Survival

  • Colin G. Calloway
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)

Abstract

Warfare had existed on the Great Plains since prehistoric times,1 but by 1800 the area had become a vast theater of intertribal conflict. Warriors fought for prestige or revenge and waged ritualized battles in which counting coup carried more honor than inflicting casualties. White observers, especially Army officers accustomed to winning victories by inflicting massive losses, often were bewildered and bemused by Plains Indian warfare, dismissing it as petty skirmishing.

Keywords

Great Plain Army Officer Buffalo Meat Spiritual Power Sacred Object 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    John C. Ewers, “Intertribal Warfare as the Precursor of Indian-White Warfare on the Northern Great Plains,” Western Historical Quarterly 6 (1975), 398–99.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    W. W. Newcomb, Jr., “A Re-examination of the Causes of Plains Warfare,” American Anthropologists 52 (1950), 317–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hiram M. Chittenden and Alfred T. Richardson, eds., Life, Letters, and Travels of Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J., 1801–1873. 4 vols. (New York: Francis P. Harper, 1905), 3:948.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Peter Nabokov, Two Leggings: The Making of a Crow Warrior (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1967), 26–28.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Richard White, “The Winning of the West: The Expansion of the Western Sioux in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” Journal of American History 65 (1978), 342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Colin G. Calloway, “‘The Only Way Open to Us’: The Crow Struggle for Survival in the Nineteenth Century,” North Dakota History 53 (Summer 1986), 24–34.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Alfred W. Bowers, “Hidatsa Social and Ceremonial Organization,” Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 194 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1965), 220.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For a convenient overview of Crow history see Frederick E. Hoxie, The Crow (New York: Chelsea House, 1989). The same author’s Parading through History: The Making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805–1935 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995) offers the best study of Crow history.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Robert H. Lowie, The Crow Indians (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965 reissue), 215;Google Scholar
  10. see also Fred W. Voget, “Warfare and the Integration of Crow Culture,” in Ward H. Goodenough, ed., Explorations in Cultural Anthropology (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964), 483–509.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Colin G. Calloway, “Army Allies or Tribal Survival: The ‘Other Indians’ in the 1876 Campaign,” in Charles E. Rankin, ed., Legacy: New Perspectives on the Battle of Little Bighorn (Helena: Montana Historical Society, 1996).Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Donald Jackson and Mary Lee Spence, eds., The Expeditions of John Charles Fremont. 2 vols. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970), 1:493.Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    Milo M. Quaife, ed., War Path and Bivouac: The Big Horn and Yellowstone Expedition. By John F. Finerty (Chicago: R. R. Donnelley, 1955), 104.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© BEDFORD BOOKS of St. Martin’s Press 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin G. Calloway
    • 1
  1. 1.Dartmouth CollegeUSA

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