History: Treatment of captives among Southeastern tribes

"I conduct workshops on Southeastern Indian history and culture at the John C. Campbell Folk School for two full weeks a year and for various Elderhostels throughout the year. One topic that surfaces quite often is the manner in which these Indians treated enemies captured in warfare or by chance. The answer is, “It all depends.”

Not infrequently, other Indians were adopted and treated as kinsmen. Some were enslaved in the sense that he belonged to the man who captured him in war. He became part of that person’s household and performed menial duties. In The Southeastern Indians (University of Tennessee Press, 1976), University of Georgia anthropologist Charles Hudson describes captives of this sort as “a sort of living scalp;” that is, he enhanced the prestige of the captor. Still other captives were executed brutally or tortured to death.

A common method of torture was used throughout North America — the ritual burning of the captive at a stake in the middle of the village. The Natchez tribe, situated in what is now southeastern Mississippi, elevated torture to another level, as described by Dr. Hudson."

Get the Story:
George Ellison: Different tribes treated captives differently (The Smoky Mountain News 2/29)

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