Illustrated Letter to George Kerr (5 pages and envelope)

September 29th

Dear Mr. Kerr –
I send by todays – express your picture the title of which – is “Counting Coup” it illustrates a story –
told to me by an old Blood Indian. To Count Coup is to strike the enemy.
the blow may be struck with gun whip – or any wepon which entitles the striker – to the scalp though killed by others – In old times some Indians carried what was – called a Coup stick which – bring medicine would insure death of the one struck. I will recount the story as near as – possible in the language of the redman – About fifteen years ago I was camped with – the Bloods it was a verry hot afternoon

Page 2 – the sides of the lodges were roled up – allowing the aire to pass under – making them verry comfortable – My host Nat-o-wap-e-sti-pis-e-mach-is- or Medicine whip – sat in his lodge stripped to his britch clout – he was at least eighty years old his long hair – being almost white, which colles for maney winters – with an Indian, on his right cheek from temple to – chin he wore a deep scar. and I noticed as I
sat to his left his leg and thigh was also scared – in maney places. Naturaly I was curious – and asked how he came by them. Medicine whip like most Indians was slow to – answer but after about five minutes in deep – thought he slowly took out his pipe and laying – it down raised his hands and mad the sign
“long ago.”

My son he said fifty snows behind – me the Sioux were verry bad first they stole – ten women who were gathering berries then they – killed a boy horse-herder and [unreadable] of twenty – horses they then fired the grass burning – much of the buffalo range we had out maney – scouts but the Sioux were like ghosts

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we could not see them – at last in the moon – of the painted leaves a scout came in with – a Sioux arrow and said he had seen maney – tracks and the poney sighn were still warm – it was not long till maney Bloods were – on their war poneys on the track of the Sioux – the sun was not yet in the middle when we
sighted them. It was a running fight until – we killed the horse of their Medicine man – then his braves gathered about him and faught – so strong we could not reach them our arrows – were nearly all gon, the Sioux had been wise – and saved theirs.

Now every time a Sioux bow string spoke a – Blood brave was wounded or sent to shadow – land there was but one way, charge and – scatter them. but we had no leader they – had killed our Chief and our harts were – on the ground the Sioux now called us – maney bad names. they said we were – people with moss on our backs from hiding – in the woods and harts cold like the snake – one young man called to me saying, You with the pritty pony, – that is not – a squaw poney, see he hangs his head – with shame, he has the Coup paint on – his hip but no man on his back it is – not even a woman come poney I will wash
the maggot from your back.

Russell notated at the bottom corner under three red marks – “Each of these marks represent a deed of bravery”

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his words were like hot irons in my – hart Has the liar spoken I called if so – let him sing his death song for in less – time than it takes to smoke the war pipe –
Russell notated underneath the drawing of the pipe – “A verry small pipe used by war partys”
his scalp will hand [hang] in the – belt of him you called the – maggot and throwing down – my bow and now empty quiver I shouted – come brothers we will show them how – the Bloods kill lice I will whip their – medicine man like I would a camp dog – my pony was strong and in a few – jumps I was among them he with the bad – tounge ran in frount of the Medicine man. I made a falce thrust with my lance
at his throat and as he raised his – shield drove under stopping his hart – crying this from the Magaot you dog – eater (The Bloods do not eat dog) then quickly – changing my shield to the string hand – I struck the medicine man across the – face with my qurit [quirt]. then the sioux – crouded about me and left their war – pictures on me a[s] you see today – this scar on my face was from the – tomahawk which stuned and blinged [blinded] me – I rembmber twisting my fingers in my

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ponys mane then it was night verry dark – when I awoke my people were about me – the sioux were dead all still thir – harts slept they were all scalped except – Bad tongue and the Medicine man which
were left for me the scars on my leg – are where the arrows went under my – shield that was long ago my son

Hoping the pictures
will please you
Yours sincerley
C.M. Russell

Current Exhibit


May 11, 2023 – April 2024