Native American Weapons

Published on March 5, 2013 by Amy

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Native American Weapons
Native American Weapons

Early Native American weapons almost always utilized stone in some way and Flint was the most effective stone to use when making a weapon. The process of making weapons from flint was called Flint Knapping and the weapon makers were called Flint knappers.

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Many Native American weapons were made from a combination of materials. An arrow or spear had a stone or bone arrowhead or point which was attached to a wooden shaft or handle all of which were held together with a cord usually made from animal sinew or with a type of glue. Arrows would also have feathers attached which improved the flight of the arrow. Native American weapons included Tomahawks, Axes, The Lance, bow and arrows, Shields, knives, Atlatl – spear throwers, Spear, Blowguns, War clubs, Arrowheads, Battle Hammers, Jawbone clubs and Slingshots. Although these were all made of stone these primitive weapons were still deadly.

Types of Native American Weapons

The later types of Native American weapons replaced those made of stone, horn, bone and hardened woods with metals such as iron and steel. But many of the replacement weapons were based on traditional native designs. Various embellishments were added to weapons such as engraving or carving and the addition of paint, quills, feathers and beads.
We have sorted the different types of weapons into five basic categories based on their functions:

  • Cutting weapons e.g. Knives
  • Striking weapons e.g. war clubs and axes
  • Throwing weapons e.g. tomahawks
  • Piercing weapons e.g. bows and arrows
  • Defensive weapons e.g. shields

The Evolution of Native American Weapons

The rapid evolution of Native American Indian weapons occurred due to contact with the Europeans. Stone weapons were replaced by weapons using iron, steel, copper and brass. Then the Native American Indians acquired guns and rifles from the traders and settlers. The following chart details a list of the names and descriptions of the variety of weapons used by the Native American Indians.

Source: warpaths2peacepipes Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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Native American Weapons Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia (accessed: May 23, 2015).

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