Point Count: In
olden times, in the plains, warfare developed into almost a game.
There was a point system for various acts of bravery. A warrior
received the most points for touching a live enemy in combat. The next
highest point award was for touching a live enemy with a bow. There
was a higher point count awarded for spearing an enemy than for
killing him with an arrow. This system was called counting coup.
Warriors each kept their own count. They were believed. Lying was not part
of their culture.
Feathers and Face
Painting: The award for a coup was to be able to
paint your face in certain ways, and to wear certain feathers. When
you prepared for war, you wore your war feathers and war paint. This
told all the warriors what honors you held.
"ace": If you had four or more coups,
you were an ace. You could then hold a position of leadership in
your tribe. Leadership was not hereditary. You had to earn the right
to lead as a reward for personal achievement.
Other Way to Earn
Coups: There were other ways to earn a coup. One
way was to steal a horse from another tribe. You received more points if
you stole a horse that was tied a tepee than if you stole a horse held
in an open field. If you were caught trying to steal a horse, the
people from whom you were stealing would kill you. This was
understood. The more risk, the more points. You could also earn coups
with acts of bravery and achievement when hunting buffalo and other
Pictorial Records: Warriors
were proud of their coups. They would paint a pictorial record of
their achievements on the sides of their tepees, and occasionally
on the bare side of their buffalo robe.
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