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Bounties & the R-Word

Bounties on the scalps of Native peoples occurred all over the United States. The scalp and sometimes other body parts (Redskins) were used as proof of the kill. In the case of the Spencer Phips Proclamation (1755) a male scalp was worth 50 pounds, a year's salary for clergy at the time. There was a lesser amount 35 pounds for women and 25 pounds for children under 12.

In 1756, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Robert Morris, in his Declaration of War against the Lenni-Lenape (Delaware) people, offered "130 Pieces of Eight, for the Scalp of Every Male Indian Enemy, above the Age of Twelve Years," and "50 Pieces of Eight for the Scalp of Every Indian Woman, produced as evidence of their being killed.


In the Maryland colony, the 1763 Act of the Maryland General Assembly determined that the scalps of "hostile Indians" based only on your sworn statement, were worth 50 pounds with no distinction between male or female, adult or child. 


In the 1850s, the U.S. government reimbursed the State of California, $924,259 in bounty fees. The California Native population was reduced by 2/3 in one decade.

An 1867 New York Times article reported that "settlers in a small town in Colorado Territory had recently subscribed $5,000 to a fund ‘for the purpose of buying Indian scalps (with $25 each to be paid for scalps with the ears on)’ and that the market for Indian scalps ‘is not affected by age or sex’." The article noted this behavior was "sanctioned" by the U.S. federal government, and was modeled on patterns the U.S. had begun
a century earlier in the "American East"

Bounties and the R-Word: Text
Bounties and the R-Word: Text

The history of the United States contains over 100 massacres of
Native Americans

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