Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

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Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Doc Newell Takes a Scalp:

Joe Meek tells this story about his friend "Doc" Newell in The River of the West.  The fur brigade that Meek and Newell were part of was attempting to circumvent a Blackfoot village in 1837.  According to Meek the most direct way to do this was to engage the Blackfoot warriors in battle.  While the warriors were thus engaged, the pack animals could be moved around in relative safety. Here is “Doc” Newell’s part in the story:

"Newell too had a desperate conflict with a half-dead warrior, who having fallen from a wound, he thought dead and was trying to scalp.  Springing from his horse he seized the Indian's long thick hair in one hand, and with his knife held in the other made a pass at the scalp, when the savage roused up knife in hand, and a struggle took place in which it was for a time doubtful which of the combatants would part with the coveted scalp-lock.  Newell might have been glad to resign the trophy, and leave the fallen warrior his tuft of hair, but his fingers were in some way caught by some gun-screws with which the savage had ornamented his coiffure, and would not part company.  In this dilemma there was no other alternative but fight.  The miserable savage was dragged a rod or two in the struggle, and finally dispatched."

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