Coup Sticks (Book Three, Card 22)

For the Plains Indians of native America, counting coup is a warrior custom that involves achieving prestige in battle over an adversary by tallying the number of victories. When faced with an adversary, it is one of the most conventional ways to demonstrate courage. Instead of killing them, it is a manner of humiliating them and, ideally, convincing them that they have lost. The Counting Coup was a very innocuous act of velour and combat honor of the greatest kind that was performed. Coupés were awarded for any blow delivered against an enemy warrior; nevertheless, touching an enemy fighter with the hand or with a coup stick was the most prestigious of the awards given. Historically, coups were marked by notches in the coup stick or feathers in the headdress of a warrior who had performed an act of courage and been awarded with them.