- A term used by Plains indians for a brave deed or victory over an enemy.
The bravest act was that of touching an
enemy while he was alive. For this purpose the warrior might rush
in and strike the enemy with his gun, quirt, bow, lance, or a long coup
stick, or even with his bare hand. If he also killed his enemy, after
touching him while alive, and finally scalped him, he could count three
Stealing a horse from an enemy would entitle
a warrior to count coup. He also could count coup by dashing into
the enemy's village and striking or touching a tepee or lodge. he
was said to have "captured" the tepee, and whatever design or symbol was
painted on the enemy tepee the warrior could paint on his own.
Should a warrior count coup on an enemy
tepee, enter and touch a live enemy, finally kill and scalp him, and on
his way out of camp steal his horse he would have plenty to boast about.
In general, it was a higher honor to touch
a live enemy than to kill him or even scalp him. The Assiniboin said:
"Killing an enemy counts nothing unless his person is touched or struck."
The Cheyenne permitted three men to count coup on an enemy - the first
who touched him, of course, gaining the greatest honor. The Crow,
Assiniboin, and Arapaho allowed four men to count coup. The Cree
believed that killing a man while out in the open was more honorable than
killing him from ambush. To kill him with a club rated higher than
killing with a rifle or bow and arrow.
Various decorations were worn for each
brave deed by a warrior. The Assiniboin who had killed enemies wore
an eagle feather for each deed. The Dakota had exploit feathers,
each indicating the feat the warrior had accomplished. The Blackfoot
coup striker wore white weasel skins. The Crow wore wolf tails at
the heels of his moccasins. A gun snatcher put ermine skins on his
shirt. A subchief trimmed his shirt and moccasins with hair.
within this Site
Coup ][ Coup Stick ][ Headdress
Names ][ Scalping ][ Tepee