The Meaning of Headdress Feathers.
Native Americans were awarded feathers that were cut, dyed, split, or notched in a certain way. Other Indian Tribes would recognize what these meant. They were usually awarded for acts of bravery in battle, and for counting coup (touching an enemy at close range):
- A red feather indicated that the wearer had been wounded in battle.
- If the feather was missing the middle upper section, that warrior had counted coup five times.
- A brave’s first coup was rewarded with a tuft of horse-hair wound around the feather-shaft, near the tip.
- A red spot meant the wearer had killed an enemy.
- When the feather was notched the wearer had taken a scalp.
- Serrated edges signified that coup had been counted four times.
- If the feather was sliced diagonally across the top, that warrior had slit the throat of his enemy.
- A split feather showed the wearer was wounded on several occasions.