Thomas Eidson’s book, adapted as The Missing, features a torture scene where Apaches sew a man into an animal skin and put it over a fire. The animal skin shrinks and suffocates the man inside. Did Indians really do that?
Noted Indian Wars expert Greg Michno says, “It’s possible, I suppose, but I have not heard of this torture,” adding, “I’d wonder if it would even work; seems that the skin would burn to ashes before it would shrink with enough force to squeeze someone inside, and why even waste an animal skin? I bet this is something concocted in the novelist’s head. Apaches were known to use fire as torture. They would hang someone upside down and build a small fire under their head, basically cooking their brains. They would also burn genitals, as shown in the 1972 movie Ulzana’s Raid. Never heard of them sewing anyone inside an animal skin.”
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write:
Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at email@example.com