Die Masai


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There are four types of deeds that were generally recognized as meritorious and counted for the title of a "chief": "the carrying of the pipe," that is, the leadership of a successful war party; the striking of a coup; the taking of an enemy’s gun or bow; and the cutting of a horse picketed in the enemy’s camp. . . . A "chief" was a man who had at least one deed of each type to his credit. In Lodge Grass there are said to be but two men living whose record entitles them to be regarded as chiefs in the old Crow sense, viz., Medicine-crow and Gray-bull. In Pryor the chiefs are Plenty-coups, Bell-rock, Sits-in-the-middle-of-the-ground, and Has-no-ground. Medicine-crow regarded himself and Plenty-coups as the only real chiefs of the entire tribe.

Three native terms are translated "coup." Of these, dakce, designates what might be called the "coup proper," that is, the actual striking of an enemy, though Gray-bull makes it include in addition the taking of a gun at the same time. The other two, ackape and araxtsie, seem to refer to any of the martial deeds recognized as meritorious.

Scalping, though said to have been extensively practiced by the Sioux, is not regarded as a specially creditable deed by the Crow, and did not count for the chieftaincy. An informant said to me, "You will never hear a Crow boast of his scalps when he recites his deeds"; and this statement is confirmed by my experience.

An exploit that is said to have taken precedence over all others in the estimation of the tribe but was probably of too rare occurrence to be enumerated among the exploits leading to the title of chief was that of turning back one’s horse to rescue a disabled fellow tribesman in the face of the pursuing enemy. Only men who had performed this deed were privileged to ride with the women captured by the Foxes or Lump-woods during the period of licensed wife-kidnaping. Other warriors of distinction enjoyed similar social prerogatives, especially in some of the important ceremonies. Thus, in the Tobacco dance adoption, a short time after the entrance into the adoption lodge, some noted brave recites the story of one of his deeds. In the Sun dance performance considerable time was consumed by war captains entering with their parties and telling about their doings. A man famous for his war record is still likely to be invited to name a child.2

2Lowie, R.H.n/an/an/an/a, "Social Life of the Crow Indians," Amer. Nat. Hist., Anth. Pap., 9: 230–231.


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Chicago: "Die Masai," Die Masai in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed December 3, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=N36UNVYCTST6GTY.

MLA: . "Die Masai." Die Masai, Vol. 9, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 3 Dec. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=N36UNVYCTST6GTY.

Harvard: , 'Die Masai' in Die Masai. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 3 December 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=N36UNVYCTST6GTY.