Whooping and Hollering

Apache Warriors

Did Indians do a lot of whoopin and hollerin in real life like they do in the movies? Attacking warriors from most tribes did use yells and screams to terrify and discombobulate their foes. And while Apache’s were experts at terrifying their prey. Because of the rough area they inhabited, often as not were on foot because they could hide more efficiently as they attacked, running behind rocks and cover to unleash screams and arrows.

It isn’t just American Indians who terrify their prey by screaming. Just about all cultures used battle cries. It’s pretty universal, then and now. Soldiers and Marines are trained to yell and scream during an attack. The Scots do it with bagpipes. The Japanese had a Banzai charge. That blood-curdling Comanche war cry was adopted by the Texans and during the Civil War became known as the “Rebel Yell.”

I used to tell my students the Indians didn’t go around all the time making high-pitched whooping and screaming sounds. They came back to the tee pee after a long day chasing stagecoaches and covered wagons and his wife greets him with: “Honey take out the trash.”

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