Counting Coup

Among the Plains Indians of North America, counting coup involved the winning of prestige against an enemy. Native American warriors won prestige by acts of bravery in the face of the enemy, which could be recorded in various ways and retold as stories. Any blow struck against the enemy counted as a coup, but the most prestigious acts included touching an enemy warrior with a hand, bow, or coup stick.

Counting coup could also involve stealing an enemy’s horses tied up to his lodge in camp. Risk of injury or death was required to count coup. Escaping unharmed while counting coup was considered a higher honor than being wounded in the attempt.

After a battle or exploit, the people of a band would gather together to recount their acts of bravery and “count coup”.

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