top of page
  • Writer's pictureNotes From The Frontier


Updated: May 8, 2023

Nope! Scalping was not an Indian invention.

Contrary to Hollywood, scalping has been practiced by warring people-especially whites- throughout human history. In Europe, it was documented as early as 1,053 A.D., when the Earl of Wessex, son of a Danish king, scalped his enemies. In early North America, the British, Spanish, and Dutch offered bounties for the heads of Native Americans to encourage settling the frontier, then later just scalps because heads were too cumbersome. During the Revolutionary War, Patriot and British soldiers scalped each other!

Later, white mountain men brought enemy scalps to Indian tribes they wished to trade with. Army soldiers and pioneers often scalped Indian dead for trophies. In fact, after the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 in which 150 peaceful Cheyenne of Chief Black Kettle's camp were murdered, their scalps, other body parts and a human fetus cut from a pregnant Cheyenne woman were exhibited to the public at the Denver Apollo Theater.

Some Indian tribes did scalp enemy tribes and whites. (The Nez Perce tribe that I write about in my novel, Blood to Rubies, did not customarily scalp and mutilate, but many of the enemies did.)

Some rare cases survived scalping, such as Robert McGee. At 13 years old, he was scalped on the Sante Fe Trail by Brule Sioux Chief Little Turtle in 1864 while working as a railroad teamster. McGee had been previously orphaned on a wagon train going west. This photo was taken around 1890.

You may also enjoy this related post:

•Native Hair Traditions

"Scalping" was first posted May 18, 2019 on Facebook and

82,863 views / 2,212 likes / 327 comments


1,554 views2 comments


Sharon ODonnell
Sharon ODonnell

I believe they collected Ears in Vietnam.

You don't want to be that close to the Enemy.



R Non
R Non

Found another opinion with another perspective. worth reading.


Deborah Hufford

Author, Notes from the Frontier

Deborah Hufford is an award-winning author and magazine editor with a passion for history. Her popular blog with 100,000+ readers has led to an upcoming novel! Growing up as an Iowa farmgirl, rodeo queen and voracious reader, her love of land, lore and literature fired her writing muse. With a Bachelor's in English and Master's in Journalism from the University of Iowa, she taught students of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, then at Northwestern University, Marquette and Mount Mary. Her extensive publishing career began at Better Homes & Gardens, includes credits in New York Times Magazine, New York Times, Connoisseur, many other titles, and serving as publisher of The Writer's Handbook


Deeply devoted to social justice, especially for veterans, women, and Native Americans, she has served on boards and donated her fundraising skills to Chief Joseph Foundation, Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), Homeless Veterans Initiative, Humane Society, and other nonprofits.  


Deborah's soon-to-be released historical novel, BLOOD TO RUBIES weaves indigenous and pioneer history, strong women and clashing worlds into a sweeping saga praised by NYT bestselling authors as "crushing," "rhapsodic," "gritty," and "sensuous." Purchase BLOOD TO RUBIES online beginning June 9. Connect with Deborah on, Facebook, and Instagram.

  • Deborah Hufford on Facebook
  • Deborah Hufford on Instagram
  • Deborah Hufford's Official Website
deborah hufford.webp
bottom of page