The History of Scalping
Yes, it may be a fact that Indians were scalping long before colonists arrived in America; however, some colonists, especially the unscrupulous ones who wanted to earn some money, took up this barbaric practice with a vengeance, according to history.com. Of course, keep in mind that beheading had long been a popular form of punishment in Europe, so scalping may not seemthat extreme in comparison.
1. Indians Weren't the First
o Native-languages.org maintains that scalping, which involves cutting off the scalp to provide proof of an enemy's demise, was a very common practice in North America among Indians. However, as comcast.net notes, scalping was not invented by the Indians. As far back as the fifth century B.C., the Scythians, according to Herodotus, werescalping their enemies. Others who engaged in this grisly practice included the Anglo-Saxons, French, Persians and Visigoths. Some debate that the Indians actually learned it from the colonists, although other historians disagree, according to comcast.net.
o Scalping was at its peak during the colonial wars. The French Canadians shelled out a tidy sum for scalps, and it didn't matter whothe scalp belonged to. According to essortment.com, the state of Massachusetts paid 12 pounds for an Indian scalp in 1703. In 1723, the price was raised to 100 pounds. The English offered their troops a bounty of 200 pounds for the scalp of Shingas, the chief of the Delaware tribe, during the French and Indian wars. This was 25 times more than what was offered to their Indian friends for thescalp of a French soldier. Paying for Indian scalps was a practice that continued until the 19th century.
o It was believed that a scalp, which was considered a war trophy, could bestow the scalper with powers derived from the dead enemy, according to History.com.
o The method of scalping described in Dr. Miland Brown's blog, entailed striking the victim on the head with a tomahawk,which kills the victim, grabbing a knife and making an incision at the hair from the front at the forehead around to the back. The Indian would then put his foot on the victim's shoulder, turn him over, and pull off the scalp, from back to front. The scalp would then be attached to the scalper's belt. The Indian would then flee, always giving a death cry as he departs. If the Indian was not beingpursued, he could scrape the skin from the scalp, remove fibers and blood, make a hoop out of wood, stretch the skin over the hoop and put it in the sun to dry. The skin would then be painted red. The hair of the scalp would be combed. The scalp was then attached to the end of a stick. The Indian would carry the stick back to his home. As the Indian approached his home, he would give criesindicating how many scalps he had.
o Native-languages.org notes that while scalping techniques came from the American Indians, the concept of war prizes in the form of a body part was a long-standing practice engaged in by both Europeans and Indians. The practice of paying a bounty for a body part was a European idea.
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