In the movie, The Revenant, Hugh and his group of trappers were ambushed by Native Americans after a fruitful pelt hunt.

There was at least one Native American fighter who had climbed onto a tree and attacked colonists from above.

How realistic is this scene? Were Native American fighters able to climb onto a tree in the middle of the trapper camp without being noticed?

  • 1
    unlikely unless the tree is really huge and has place to hide well. Being spotted on a tree is rather unfortunate as you can't easily escape. Not easy to hide. Only ranged attack seems viable. And then if you don't defeat the enemies, you are in big trouble. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 21:15
  • "Were Native American fighters able to climb onto a tree in the middle of the trapper camp without being noticed" << In the abstract, this cannot be proven false, because it depends so much on how attentive the trappers are. It's always possible to sneak on someone, no matter how badly you do it, if the person you're sneaking on is not wary and is too absorbed in their work.
    – Stef
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 12:21
  • 7
    If you're want more than you get from the answers here, it might be worth asking on a history-focused site (e.g. History.SE) than on a movie-focused site.
    – R.M.
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 13:41
  • 1
    the answer below is superb, but go ask on the history site for sure
    – Fattie
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 13:42
  • Which army have you ever heard of whose soldiers would not have climbed trees, assuming only that they had the skills? Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


According to many sources (like the Indian Battlefield Tactics), Native Americans were fighting with tactics using (and adapted to) the grounds, and, whenever possible (e.g. in the woods) hiding behind trees and moving from one to another, using a horseshoe shape.

This has been used all over the world and throughout history, even if tactics evolved with time and weapons. They definitely were using trees, but I can't find any evidence that they were climbing them. Why wouldn't they, though, if needed?

And going unnoticed into an opponent camp at night is as old as warfare. It's been done by the حَشّاشِین -- order of assassins and by the ninja with their "tanuki-gakure" technique, intended to hide, spy or attack:

The practice of climbing a tree and camouflaging oneself within the foliage. Falls under "wood techniques" (mokuton-no-jutsu).

Any technique invented on a continent or by a group of warriors can also be invented somewhere else, like how hunting techniques are often similar and adapted to the country and grounds. So I guess that it's clearly possible that a Native American warrior would climb a tree for spying, hiding or trapping.

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