Scouts-L Mail Archive for September of 1999: A Coup Stick is... (was Attendance Rewards)
A Coup Stick is... (was Attendance Rewards)
Tue, 7 Sep 1999 06:54:13 -0400
A lot of people asked privately, too, so...
Originally this idea came from the 'Big Idea' book with the red cover. It
describes a ten to twelve inch long piece of hardwood which the boys could
decorate to their liking. Along the edges are numbers (could be representations
of the pins, too) representing the 20 Webelos activities. Each time an activity
is completed, the boys whittle a notch next to the number.
Coincidentally, I came across a book of American Indian crafts written in the
20's-30's, which was meant to document the dying ways of the Native American
lifestyle. The author stated that much of the tribal elders knowledge was not
being passed on because a) machines were making it easier and cheaper to do
certain things, and b) disintrest among members. Anyway, one of the items was a
'Coup Stick'. He described it as a stick that a warrior carried with him to
strike an enemy in battle. To kill at long range with a bow or gun was easy,
but to strike an enemy at close range showed bravery, thus 'Couting Coup' on an
opponent was a very honorable thing to do.
The item shown (in a very detailed drawing) is a stick, made of willow or other
pliable wood, somewhere between 3-6 feet long, shaped like a cane. The author
suggests that a pice of cord was often used to keep the curved end bent back.
It was wrapped with what the author called felt but I assume to be wool, fur
pelts, and/or painted, and decorated with feathers, horsehair, beads, etc. By
no means does it appear to be a leathal weapon, so I assume it was used to
strike your enemy (tag, you're it!) prior to use of another close quarters
weapon. Note that I say assume, as I am only constructing what I can from the
descripion and drawings I have available. The curved end leads me to believe
that it didn't even have a sharp end on it that could have hurt another, unless
you hooked them with it.
Another Native American craft book I have, which has lots of 'popular' items
like dream catchers and the like, shows three variations on the theme. All are
attributed to Plains Indian tribes. One, however, is a Sioux "war banner" which
is basically a lance decorated with feathers standing out along its length and
seen quite often in western films.
We've adapted the concept of the 'authentic' coup stick a bit by making it more
like the BSA version but longer, which allows more freedom on decoration, etc.,
and doing more than just pony beads. We have awards for everything from
attendance to backyard camping to completing an activity pin. Horsehair plumes,
bear claws and hawk talons, plain, painted and "Eagle" feathers, you name it,
it's just limited by imagination. We display them at Pack meetings, and have a
den (sorry, PATROL) totem where the boys awards are duplicated. We'll take this
on campouts, parades, etc.
If anyone has a more accurate or knowledgable description, please let me know,
as I've been telling my boys the history on this item that I've related above.
Wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong, won't be the last...
Cubmaster, Webelos Leader
...They thread the beads and feathers onto their coup sticks...
Can you help me here a bit... what is a coup stick & how does it tie into your
Overland Park, Kansas