Coup Feathers

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):

  1. A red feather indicated that the wearer had been wounded in battle.
  2. If the feather was missing the middle upper section, that warrior had counted coup five times.
  3. A brave’s first coup was rewarded with a tuft of horse-hair wound around the feather-shaft, near the tip.
  4. A red spot meant the wearer had killed an enemy.
  5. When the feather was notched the wearer had taken a scalp.
  6. Serrated edges signified that coup had been counted four times.
  7. If the feather was sliced diagonally across the top, that warrior had slit the throat of his enemy.
  8. A split feather showed the wearer was wounded on several occasions.


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