IN 1975 I BECAME INTRIGUED BY THE INCREASINGLY POPULAR SUGGEStion in non-Indian literature and the Indian press that the " white man" had taught the Indians how to scalp in the colonial period through the use of scalp bounties, an assertion found more frequently in polemical than historical contexts. Having read most of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sources on eastern Indian warfare, I was skeptical that the proposition would hold water. I suspected that some serious logical slippage was occurring between the correct assertion that European colonial governments encouraged friendly Indians to kill and scalp enemy Indians, and the conclusion that the Europeans therefore taught the Indians how to scalp each other.
Thanks to a chance meeting on a bus with William Sturtevant of the Smithsonian, I discovered that I was not alone in my skepticism and that we both had been collecting expressions of the new myth for some time. Whereupon we agreed to co-author an article, which finally appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly in July 1980. The delay was not entirely due to procrastination. After swapping notes, I wrote a first draft to read at the 1975 Iroquois and Algonquian conferences, where its title spawned several bursts of outrageous punning but its message was well taken. Then in April 1977 American Heritage published a short summary of our historical argument, including some strik