Native Americans weren’t the only people who scalped their enemies. The European settlers who colonized the country learned from and copied them. Cutting off the skin on a man’s head became a widespread practice across the country—America’s dirty secret that plays a hidden role in every major moment in the nation’s history.
At first, the settlers of the New World treated scalping as a sign of barbarism and savagery. But as time went on and they struggled through more of life on the wild frontier, some started to see tearing the skin of a man’s skull as nothing worse than an efficient way to take home his head.
The American frontier became a brutal place where the scalps of dead men were a currency. White men and natives alike were massacring and mutilating innocent people for a fistful of cash—and the thin, delicate line between civilization and savagery slowly eroded away.