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The War Complex of the Plains Indians

Marian W. Smith
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
Vol. 78, No. 3 (Jan. 31, 1938), pp. 425-464
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/984763
Page Count: 40
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The War Complex of the Plains Indians
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Abstract

Warfare was one of the main concerns of the Indian tribes of the Great Plains of North America. A survey of the literature shows that war parties were sporadic but ever-present contingencies. The war path was distinguished from the path of peace by a set of rituals which served also to accent the importance of warrior status to the scale of political and social prestige. The motivations and associations of this warfare link it with the emotional stress of mourning and the practice of scalping is revealed as fundamental to such a linkage.

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