Did The Apache Really Scalp Their Enemies?


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Steve Theunissen Profile
No, not traditionally. It was actually the Mexicans who introduced this practice to the area. As a result of the constant conflicts between Mexico and the Apache nation, the Mexican Sonoran government returned to the old Spanish method of offering scalp bounties. This was not an exclusively Spanish innovation—the British and the French had followed this custom in earlier times.
The Mexicans scalped in order to claim a cash bounty, and it sometimes did not matter whether the scalp was Apache or not. In 1835 a scalp bounty law was passed in Mexico that offered 100 pesos for each warrior's scalp. Two years later the price included 50 pesos for a woman's scalp and 25 for that of a child! "The Apaches themselves did no scalping. However, the Chiricahua did at times take scalps—but not often, because of their fear of death and ghosts. Scalping was done only in retaliation after the Mexicans inaugurated the tactic.

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