Published on August 26, 2014 by Amy
When European settlers landed on the East Coast of what is now the U.S., there were between 140 and 160 different Native American tribes living in North America. Each tribe was unique and diverse with its own culture, art and traditions. Native Americans worked with their environment to make the tools and shelter they needed to survive. Among the tools they made were cutting tools made primarily from stones.
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Axes were commonly used by Native Americans for cutting. Grooved axes were made of stone — usually sandstone or limestone. One end of the axe was wedge-shaped, while the other end was grooved to indicate the placement of a wooden handle. Native Americans are thought to have used the wedged end of the axe to cut wood in any number of woodworking projects. The axes found in the Ohio Valley measure between 4 inches and 5 1/2 inches.
Projectile points are triangular shaped tools generally made from chert, or flint. Flint is a type of silica found in rocks in the U.S. The Native Americans made these projectile points in many different shapes and sizes for a variety of purposes. The smaller ones were generally fixed on long sticks and used as arrows or spears. Large projectile points were often used as knives for cutting the flesh of animals. They were sometimes attached to a wooden handle for better control and grip.
One of the most commonly used Native American cutting tools is the flint knife. Flint knives differ from projectile points in that they generally have a more rounded or blunt cutting end and a more elliptical form. They vary in length from 2 inches to 8 inches. Flint knives usually have stems and notches for attaching to a handle, which indicates that they were most likely handheld cutting devices used as weapons and for hunting animals.
The corner-tanged knife is a type of flint knife used primarily by Native Americans from the Texas region. The corner-tanged knife is characterized by the notches and stem found in one corner of the knife where a handle was likely attached. They measure between 2 and 5 inches in length and were used as a cutting tool. Due to its unique shape, this knife appears to be more specialized than other cutting tools; however, its exact purpose is unknown.