Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Origin Of Counting Coup

According to The Flame Winter Count, the "Uncpapa kill two Rees," 1799-1800. The bow over their heads indicates that they also counted coup on the two Arikara. The Arikara were designated by their distinctive hair, or by an ear of corn.
The Origin of Counting Coup
Honor Began With Birds
By Dakota Wind
Great Plains, N.A. (TFS) – The traditional war honor of counting coup reaches back to a time before the First Nations walked upon Mak
ȟóčhe Wašté (Beautiful Country; North America). When the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Seven Council Fires; the Great Sioux Nation, or “Sioux”) arrived, they learned to survive by first observing nature.

When the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ learned warfare, they were prepared for the First Battle by Tȟokéya (the very First man), aided by Iŋktómi (the Spider Nation in this instance, not the legendary trickster) and Ziŋtkála (the Bird Nation).

With a heavy heart, Tȟokéya gave the first bow and arrows to men. “Misúŋkala (Little Brother/s),” said Tȟokéya, “the time to give you weapons is now and I am sorry to do so. Now, at last there is war in the hearts of animals and man.” According to Ohíyesa (The Winner; aka Dr. Charles Eastman) and his work Wigwam Evenings, Tȟokéya gave them a spear as well and showed them how to use these tools.

The late Paul Goble illustrated this scene from his "The Great Race." In the story of the first battle, the First Man threw a rock up which then came down as a wall of stone. 

Iŋktómi fashioned stone tools for arrows, spears, and knives, then scattered these things across 
Makȟóčhe Wašté for the people to find and use. They say that Iŋktómi continued to knap stone up until recent times. The high-pitched ring of stone on stone was heard by Lakȟóta men and women on Standing Rock. “Some people have heard him at work, but could never see him. I have, myself, heard him at work, chipping stones. It was a small hole south of Fort Yates where I heard him working. He went slow (chip chip). We got within a few feet of the hole, when he would stop and we could not find him then. When we went away he worked again,” said Bull Bear to Col. A. Welch in 1926.

In the First Battle, the Ziŋtkála had chosen the side of the animals. In another story, there was a Great Race around Ȟesápa (the Black Hills) between man and animal, to decide who would hunt who. Ziŋtkála stood with man, because like man, Ziŋtkála has two legs. 

A snippet of Mails illustration of a war party on the Great Plains. Each carries a coup stick.

The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ observed how Ziŋtkála defended their nests from one another and from other threats. In 1919, Siŋté Wakíŋyaŋ (Thunder Tail; Oglála) shared that all Ziŋtkála are alike in the regard they have for their young. When approached, Ziŋtkála cries out vigorously, and if the interloper still advances, only then do they fly out and give chase. “...iwíčhačupi čhíŋpi šni hé uŋ héčhapi (...they do not want their children taken, that’s why they do this),” said Siŋté Wakíŋyaŋ.

Siŋté Wakíŋyaŋ continued: “Wóeye kiŋ le othéȟike lápi: ‘Blihíč’iyapo! Ziŋtkála waŋ iyé wípȟe yuhá šni yéš čhiŋčá awíčhakikšiža,’ eyápiča na hé tóna okíčhize él opȟápi kiŋ hená líla óta waóŋtoŋyaŋpi ktA ogná škaŋpi nakúŋ t’ápi eyáš na oyáte kiŋ hé uŋ awáŋiglakapi (They have a determined saying: ‘Take courage! Birds have no weapons and yet they keep their young,’ they said. They fight determinedly and wound their many enemies, sometimes killing them to protect what is theirs).”

“Heháŋl íčhinuŋpa wóeye kiŋ: ‘Ziŋtkála owé oyásiŋ kiŋyáŋpi na okté šičápi.’ Hé uŋ oyáte kiŋ okíčhize él ziŋtkála iyéčhel škaŋpí (They have a second saying: ‘All the birds fly and strike the bad ones.’ In battle, the people are like birds).”

Counting coup then, can be taken by way of touching the enemy with one’s own hand, with a stick, quirt, lance, bow, staff, or even a rifle. The 
Očhéthi Šakówiŋ call this honor: Tȟóka Kté ("Strike/Kill an enemy"). The coup stick is called Čhaŋwápaha. Recounting these deeds is called WaktóglakA. The victory dance is a Waktégli Wačhípi. 

The 1715-1716 entry on the Baptiste Good Winter Count recalls the enemy astride a horse entering camp who stabbed a boy near the lodge. 

The Baptiste Good Winter Count (Sičháŋǧu; aka Brulé) recalls a curious development in warfare. In the entry for 1714-1715 a warrior astride a horse, carrying a pine lance, came to attack, but killed nothing. According to Dr. Corbusier’s notes, this mounted attack was the first of its kind experienced by the Sičháŋǧu. The rider certainly didn’t come to joust. He came to collect war honor, not to kill. 

Red Dragonfly counts coup on the enemy with a bow.

The Rosebud Winter Count (Sičháŋǧu) mentions coup a few times, the earliest of which will be shared here. In 1774-1775, a man named Red Dragonfly counted coup using a bow on a Crow Indian. A winter count entry was selected because it was outstanding. Counting coup was bold and daring, and young men were expected to be so as well. Not every war party went to count coup. In fact, some had coup counted on them, and the unlucky returned in humiliation. There was something exceptional about this particular deed that needed to be remembered. 

An entry from the Long Soldier Winter Count. The two men return with scalps on their coup sticks. A copy is available to view at the Sitting Bull College Library in Fort Yates, ND.

The Long Soldier Winter Count (Húŋkpápȟa) mentions coup in the entry for 1816-1817, "2 Sioux killed 2 Crows and scalped them and blackened their own faces for gladness and came home [sic]."

For the Húŋkpapȟa, there are four coups: first coup is for the one who struck the enemy first, alive or dead, second coup is for the one who struck second, third coup for third strike, and fourth coup for fourth strike. A coup must be substantiated by an eyewitness. 

Mails illustrated this image of the scalp (the first coup) on this horse. Get yourself a copy of the profusely illustrated Mystic Warriors of The Plains.

According to Matȟó Watȟákpe (John Grass), first coup is designated by an eagle tail feather with the quill painted red, bound in red cloth, or embroidered with quillwork. A first coup feather may be colored or notched to include second, third, or fourth coup. A rider would designate first coup with a horse tail affixed beneath the horse’s bridle bit. Other methods of showing one’s first coup included attached a streamer of horsehair to the tip of an eagle feather, or a small tuft of plumage was carefully glued to the tip of the feather.

Second, third, and fourth coup would be evidenced by stripes, perhaps on a shirt, leggings, or even painted on a horse when riding to meet the enemy.

Living narrative of the coup designations survives today in lekší (uncle) Wilbur Flying By.  "Amongst our Hunkpapa relatives the first to count coup wore a center eagle tail feather straight up. [The] second to count coup wore an eagle feather to the right. [The] third to count coup wore an eagle feather to the left, and the fourth to count coup wore a buzzard feather."

The coup stick might have the crown (the scalp) of an enemy attached to it. The swirl, or crown, of hair represented the soul to the Lakȟóta. Taking the crown, or scalping the enemy meant taking the soul of the enemy.

Counting coup wasn’t limited to touching just the enemy. Sometimes a warrior made a run through an enemy village, on his pass through, he might reach out and touch a painted lodge, stealing the other’s medicine and take it home with him to put on his lodge. 

Another illustration by Mails. This coup stick resembles the one described by Mr. Leo Caddotte of Wakpala, SD to Col. Welch. 

Sometimes a man would gather his honors, his feathers, and had he accumulated enough, created a wápaha, a kind of banner or staff, sometimes adorned with cloth. Other banners or staves, were long and crooked on one end, and wrapped in otter fur. The feathers were arranged to adorn either wápaha.

An esteemed warrior might even invite his kȟolákičhiyapi, his brothers-in-arms or society, to his wife’s lodge for a meal. Then they would recount the stories of each feather earned, then the man might make a wapȟáha, a warbonnet or headdress.

The honor of the coup could also be gifted to another. This honor can be the one feather or more, a warshirt, a staff, or even a headdress. When this honor was gifted, it was also accompanied by a song and a feast.

The most important symbol of the leader, according to the Hunkpapa, was the staff. 

In 1941, Col. Welch was visiting Húŋkpápȟa friends at Wakpála, SD on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Welch inquired about the significance of the wičhápȟaha ógle (the warshirt), the wápaha, and the wapȟáha. The Húŋkpápȟa told Welch the most important symbol of the itȟáŋčhaŋ (chief), was the wápaha. Specifically, the kind of staff that was crooked. They detailed to Welch a staff that was squared and painted white on two sides and red on the others. High Reach said that the white represented purity of purpose, and the red symbolized honor. A blue band was painted at the halfway point of this staff, which stood for the everlasting sky above. The feathers hung down on one side of the staff and a five-pointed star hung from the crook. 

Conflict wasn’t about taking life, but securing personal honor and demonstrating courage. Warfare, according to Ohíyesa, “... was held to develop the quality of manliness and its motive was chivalric or patriotic, but never the desire for territorial aggrandizement or the overthrow of a brother nation.”

Good read. McGinnis bucks the trend of historians and begins his timeline at 1738, and the typical year that most historians say the horse arrived on the nothern Great Plains, which is typically said to be at "about 1750."  

Lakȟóta military strategy was carefully planned to avoid unnecessary risks.

In 1879, a young Lt. William Philo Clark was stationed in Dakota Territory. There he was charged with learning the Plains Indian sign language. Clark recorded the sign for counting coup as: hold the left hand, back to left and outwards, in front of the body, index finger extended and pointing to front and right, others [remaining fingers] and thumb closed; bring right hand, back to front, just in rear of left [hand] and lower, index finger extended, pointed downwards and to the left, right index finger under left, other fingers and thumb closed; raise right hand, and turn it by wrist action so that end of right index strikes sharply against [the] side of the left as it passes.

The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ learned to survive by observing nature. Especially Ziŋtkála (the bird nation). Ziŋtkála built nests at certain times of the year, and defended their young and their m
akȟóčhe (country; territory) when needed. Ziŋtkála even help each other sometimes; the meadowlark never reminds the prairie chicken of the time they defended their ground nests from a common foe. Ziŋtkála doesn't disparage the ways of other Ziŋtkála. When the seasons change, each respects its time and calling. 

Eastman, Charles A., Dr., and Elaine Goodale Eastman. Wigwam Evenings: 27 Sioux Folktales. Dover ed. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2000.

Welch, A. B., Col. "Life on The Plains in The 1800's." Welch Dakota Papers. November 2, 2011. Accessed January 5, 2017.

Stars, Ivan, Peter Irin Shell, and Eugene Buechel. Lakota Tales And Texts. Edited by Paul Manhart. Pine Ridge, SD: Red Cloud Lakota Language and Cultural Center, 1978.

Lakota Winter Counts Online. March 3, 2005. Accessed January 12, 2017.

Flying By, Wilbur. Interview by Charles I. Walker. Lakota Traditions. Wakpala, SD, 2001.

The Year The Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts At The Smithsonian. Edited by Candace S. Greene and Russell Thornton. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

Clark, W. P. The Indian Sign Language. First ed. Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 1982.

Mails, Thomas E. The Mystic Warriors of the Plains. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

First Treaty With Great Sioux Nation

Edward Hicks painted this scene depicting William Penn's great treaty. The only native depicted without a woodlands headdress, the one holding the pipe, resembles the Dakota headman known as Strong Hand as pictographed by Sitting Bull.
Treaty With Great Sioux Nation
1682 Penn Treaty With Indians

By Dakota Wind
BISMARCK, ND – The Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 & 1868 are generally held to be treaties between the United States and “The Great Sioux Nation.” Some might look further back to the 1825 Treaty of Prairie du Chien when the boundaries of the Dakȟóta were recognized by the United States.

Treaties are agreements between two or more nations, usually around trade, commerce, travel, aid, and taxes. The first treaty between the United States and First Nations took place at Fort Pitt, September, 1778. The treaty recognized the Delaware as a sovereign nation and allowed for U.S. military passage through Delaware lands, and even for the Delaware to provide able-bodied warriors to assist the United States. In exchange, the US was to construct a fort to protect the Delaware women, children, and elders from hostile retaliation, textiles, clothing, and the means to defend themselves.

Not surprisingly, the US broke the Treaty of Fort Pitt before the year was out.

There are treaties between First Nations and the Old World countries which pre-date the United States. An example of a pre-US treaty is the Two Row Wampun Treaty between the Dutch and the Iroquois Confederacy in 1618. The treaty was founded on mutual respect, to live in peace on the land, and to respect one another’s laws and customs. 

Benjamin West depicted his version of Penn's Treaty with the Indians. Hicks based his interpretation on West's. The individual seated with his left hand gripping his pipe resembles the pictograph Sitting Bull drew of Strong Hand. The Delaware are clearly depicted in this scene. A point of interest is the native man behind William Penn who appears to be wearing something similar to the Plains Indian shaved horn headdress. This painting is on permanent display at the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts. 

Between 1682 and 1685, William Penn entered into amity, or formal agreement, with nineteen First Nations, to acquire land for what would become known as Pennsylvania. The 1682 formal agreement between two nations was memorialized in the oil painting The Treaty of Penn with The Indians around 1771-1772. The painting depicts a meeting between William Penn, representing the United Kingdom, and Tamanend, representing the Delaware, near the share of an elm tree by the community of Shackamaxon (present-day Kensington, PA). 

A belt of wampum delivered by the Indians to William Penn at the Great Treaty under the elm tree at Shackamaxon in 1682. The Leni Lenapi "history belt" recalls their meeting in good faith with William Penn. A second belt was handed down to Leni Lenapi chief Killbuck, who lost it on a run for safety to Fort Pitt in 1782. 

Penn is attributed to have said, “We meet on the broad pathway of good faith and good-will; no advantage shall be taken on either side, but all shall be openness and love. We are the same as if one man’s body was to be divided into two parts; we are of one flesh and one blood.”

Nicholas Gevelot created this sculpture of Tamanend's meeting with William Penn. The difference between the paintings and this sculpture is that it is Tamanend who is holding the pipe. The sculpture can be seen in the capital rotunda at Harrisburg, PA.

Tamanend is said to have responded, “We will live in love with William Penn and his children as long as the creeks and rivers run, and while the sun, moon, and stars endure.”

Pennsylvanian historians would argue that there exists no record of William Penn’s great treaty. Those historians probably focus their research on the written word as artifact. A record did in fact exist, just not in conventional writing, and not in any place historically associated with the Delaware Indians.

In 1879, at Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan, the Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta were refugees, waiting on Canadian authorities to accept them there (they weren’t accepted, but treated as an “Indian Problem”), and debating amongst themselves to return to their traditional homelands in the US. 

Fort Walsh (pictured above) with a Sibley Tent encampment outside the wall. 

Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake, reknowned as Sitting Bull, met with the Indian Fighter and US military scout, Fred. M. Hans, known amongst the Lakȟóta as Wičháȟpi Waŋžíla (Only-One Star), for his travels through their country by himself, and for his habit of entering their camps after sunset with the “suddenness of a descending star.” Hans observed that if he entered camps after sunset, the likelihood of his death upon entering a camp unannounced decreased.

Hans met with the Lakȟóta at Fort Walsh in July, 1879. Somehow, Hans ingratiated himself into the company of Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake and in their discussions about the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, the Seven Council Fires (“Great Sioux Nation”) and their dealings with white men. 

Sitting Bull wears a military issued blanket over one shoulder in a tradition that means he has something particular to say, an address. 

Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake recalled for Hans, a treaty between Onáse (Big Game Hunt), the name given to William Penn by a head chief, at that time, of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. That head chief was remembered among the Lakȟóta as Napé Waš’ákA (Strong Hand). Hans mistranslated Strong Hand as “Strong Arm” instead.

An illustration of a likeness of Napé Waš’ákA (Strong Hand) appears in Hans' The Great Sioux Nation, page 413. Hans seems to have based this illustration on the likeness of Chief Pontiac. 

Hans, neither a scholar or linguist, tied the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ to the Delaware Indian tribe. The Delaware speak an Algonquian related language, not Siouan. There are two tribal nations, however, who are Siouan, the Catawba and the Woccon, who lived in the vicinity of the Delaware. Hans wrote that Napé Waš’ákA was a Delaware chief, which is possible as tribes across North America frequently adopted enemies or married into “enemy” tribes. 

The meeting of Strong Hand and William Penn as rendered by Sitting Bull. The Delaware are not represented in Sitting Bull's tale. 

The treaty as Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake laid out in pictograph for Hans detailed a leafless tree, designating the time of year (fall) when the treaty took place. The number of black dots thereon represent the number of winters (years) since the treaty between Onáse and Napé Waš’ákA. According to Lakȟóta testimony, a black dot was added each year that passed following the treaty with Penn. 

The John K. Bear Winter Count, a pictographic mnemonic device, begins in 1682. The first entry of this record is: Wičhókičize tȟáŋka (They-fought great [battle]), they fought in a great battle. James H. Howard's interpretation of the entry points to conflict the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ had with the Cree and Assiniboin "up north." Other winter counts reaching back to the turn of 1700 do not elude to an agreement with the English, but that doesn't mean that none didn't take place.

Hans' writings isn't a critical work. It's full of embellishment and bias, but it is historical and embraces its own tone like a badge of honor. It is a writing of its time, reflecting a man of its time. One thing is certain, Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake was known for his steadfast character and was not prone to embellish any history he recounted. In the oral tradition, Mr. Ernie LaPointe (Oglála) the direct lineal great-grandson of Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake, the Lakȟóta kept their promise not to fight the white man until their survival was at stake, and then, it was soldiers who were the first aggressors.

The treaty between the English and the First Nations and the terms of peace Penn agreed to lasted until the 1755 Penn’s Creek conflict when some Indians, allegedly Delaware, killed all but one settler. The lone survivor’s testimony recalled the Indians identifying themselves as “Allegheny” or Seneca Indians.

According to Hans, “our government [the US federal government] record shows that the tribal rules of the Sioux have kept the record without error.”

A monument to Penn’s treaty stands today at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, PA. It reads, “Treaty Ground of William Penn and the Indian Natives 1682 Unbroken Faith.”


Penn Treaty Museum

Hans, Fred M., The Great Sioux Nation. Chicago, IL: MA Donahue, 1907.
Chapter 26: The Only Unbroken Treaty. 

Howard, James H. "Yanktonai Ethnohistory and The John K. Bear Winter Count." Plains Anthropologist: Journal of The Plains Conference 21, no. 73, Part 2, Memoir 11 (1976): 20.

LaPointe, Ernie, Sitting Bull: His Life and Legacy. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2009.