The earliest mention I can find of Native American women having their noses cut off for adultery is in a memoir by Alexander Maximilian, a Prussian prince, naturalist and ethnographer in the 1830s. He said this about the men of the Blackfeet tribe: “They generally punish infidelity in their wives very seriously, cutting off their noses in such cases; and we saw, about Fort McKenzie, a great many of these poor creatures horribly disfigured. When ten or twelve tents were together, we were sure to see six or seven women mutilated in this manner. The husband also cuts off the hair by way of punishment.”
Repudiated by her mate, the mutilated woman was no longer marriageable and ended her days laboring for other households-perhaps counting herself lucky she hadn’t been killed, as sometimes occurred.