Thomas W. Strong, lithograph publisher, New York/Wikimedia Commons
“Death of Father Sebastian Rale of the Society of Jesus. Killed by the English and Mohawks at Norridgewock, Aug. 23, 1724;” frontispiece from Indian Good Book by Eugene Vetromile (1819-1880).

Native History: Scalping of 10 Abenaki Celebrated; Where Did it Begin?

Alysa Landry

In his 1969 manifesto, Custer Died for your Sins, Vine Deloria Jr. said Europeans likened Natives to wild animals.

“Scalping, introduced prior to the French and Indian War by the English, confirmed the suspicion that Indians were wild animals to be hunted and skinned,” he wrote. “Bounties were set and an Indian scalp became more valuable than beaver, otter, marten and other animal pelts.”

Regardless of how it started, the practice of scalping was losing popularity by the early 1800s, Snow said. Although there were some reports of scalping during the Revolutionary War and bounties were being offered as recently as the Civil War, the act of scalping posed a moral dilemma.

“By the end of the 1700s, practices that were widespread 50 years earlier were no longer considered appropriate,” he said.


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