Coup, The Random House College Dictionary definition, 1.a highly successful stroke, act, or move; a clever action or accomplishment.
This Indian is curious about us and wants to make sure we are not hostile, so he asks Grayfox where he is from. Grayfox explains, "I am from Arizona, Apache country. We are helping at the Crow Sun Dance". This seems to settle the Crow's discomfort. After he learns this, he dives into the water without taking off anything, wearing boots, bandana, clothes and all, then he notices me, a white stranger in the middle of Montana. He sees me sitting on the shore and he wants to start some trouble perhaps because of the fire water or maybe because he is just territorial, anyway he reaches into the water and starts splashing me. It is hot out, so I just lean back and enjoy it. He does not understand why I am not angry, so he looks at me closer and realizes I am crippled. His mood changes and he feels sorry. Realizing his change of mood I say, "I would love to go in the water but I need some help. Will you help me?"
He jumps at the chance to help me, especially because he already treated me wrongly and he feels bad about it. He walks up and takes me by my arm, he is drunk and not steady, I am not sure who is helping whom. Slowly we move toward the water, together. Accidently, one of us slips and we both tumble into the water. In midair our heads collide, and when we get on our feet again in the river someone on the shore yells, "your face is bleeding!". Not sure which one he means, we look at each other. He sees I am not bleeding so he reaches for his face and touches his forehead which has a big gash in it; his hand comes down all red.
I am apprehensive - here I am in Crow Country, Montana in the Little Big Horn River with a drunken bleeding Crow Indian. He looks at me. I am unsure if he is angry or not. I just wait.------- He reaches over, and helps me out of the water. My fear is gone, I apologize to him for his cut on the head, he says, "It is nothing," and all three men walk to their car and leave.
On the drive back to the Crow Sun Dance, Grayfox laughing, says, "Good one, you Counted Coup on that Crow."
One example of counting Coup in Indian wars would be when a warrior would hit his enemy with a stick. This would change the enemies energy, by just letting him know that you are not frightened and if you had really wanted to hurt him you could have. This act of physically touching your enemy without seriously hurting him can take away or disarm the enemys' anger. It creates an opportunity for the enemy to think about, and consider what he is doing and gives him a chance to remember that all life is sacred.
We can all Count Coup by helping someone, something, or a helping organization. By being willing to get physically involved (as when I asked for help from the drunk Crow, and he accepted) we can create an opportunity to change anger into help, and a chance so we might all survive together, in peace.
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