Native American Weapons

The Indigenous People of the United States

Discover interesting facts and information about the history and culture of Native American Indians and their tribes

Indian-weapons-tomahawks-shield-club

Discover interesting facts and information about the  weapons, including the Native American Weapons, used by Native American Indian tribes.

  • Types of Native American Weapons
  • Description and names  of Native American Weapons
  • Making a Native American Weapons - method of construction
  • List and chart of Native American Weapons
  • Interesting facts and information about Native American Weapons
Native Indian Weapons and Tools
Native American Tools
Native Indian Tribes Index

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. 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. 

Chart and List of Native American Weapons
The following chart and list of Native American Weapons provides the names of the stone weapons and their descriptions together with details of later weapons that were developed due to the new technology brought by the Europeans starting  in the 1600's.
 

Chart of Native American Weapons

 

Names of Weapons


 

Description of Native American Weapons - Stone Weapons
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Bow and Arrow

 
The Bow and Arrows were the most common types of weapons used by Native Americans. Different types and sizes were designed for hunting and for fighting. Bows for horse back riders were smaller than those used on foot. The Bow and Arrow provided a long range, accurate weapon and the opportunity to shoot rapid shots. Also refer to Quivers and Poisoned Arrows


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Longbows
 A large bow, aptly named a longbow, was used by foot soldiers and hunters from the tribe
 
 
 Native American Weapons:
Short Bow
 A short bow used when warriors attacked the enemy on horseback. The kind of bow used by riders was significantly smaller than the longbow for ease of handling
 
 
 Native American Weapons:
Projectile Points
 A projectile point was a blade that was hafted to a projectile, such as a spear, dart, arrow, or throwing knife. Tanged points are projectile points that have a tang at one end to facilitate hafting. Projectile points fall into two general types, the large spear or lance points and the smaller arrow points.

Clovis Point

Clovis points are leaf-shaped and have a wide groove on both sides of the base for fitting into short wooden spear shafts.
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Arrowheads
 An arrowhead weapon point or tip made of stone or sometimes bone usually fixed to an arrow. Arrowhead points were smaller than spear points and penetrated skin more deeply than when fired by a bow. Refer to Arrowheads.

Arrowheads
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Tomahawks

 
The Tomahawk was an axe-like weapon that had a wooden handle with a head made of stone. The tomahawk could be used for close contact fighting or as a throwing weapon. The tomahawk weapon was originally made with a stone head but developed in the 1600's using European technology. The new style tomahawk was basically a lightweight axe that had a metal edge on a solid wooden handle.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Axes

 
The axe had a heavy bladed head mounted across a handle

 
 Native American Weapons:
Shields
 Native Americans Shields are classed as defensive weapons. Discover facts and info about the War Shields and the Medicine Shields.

 
 Native American Weapons:
Lances
 Long lances were used by horse riders to knock off their enemies from their horses. A lance provided Native Americans with leverage and protection during battle. They would often decorate their lances using feathers and scalps to give them an intimidating appearance.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Knives and Daggers
 A stone knife or dagger was always carried by the Native American Indian. They varied in size and would be held in a sheath at their side or small knives were hung around the neck. Refer to Knife and Dagger

Knife and Sheath

Knives were flaked from stone to form one or more cutting edges. Knives were essential tools used for cutting meat, hides, wood and food.

Stone Knife
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
War Clubs
 War Clubs. The hitting edge of the war club was rounded and measured between 20 and 30 inches long.

War Club
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Jawbone Clubs
 A Jawbone club weapon was constructed out of the jawbone of a buffalo or a horse. The Plains Native Americans would sharpen the hitting edge of the weapon while leaving the teeth inside the jaw bone intact. The jawbone club was used as a close combat weapon and had the ability to cut through the chest of an opponent.


 

 
 

Native American Weapons:
Slings / Slingshots
 

 A sling or slingshot was one of the oldest and most primitive Native American weapons. Two pieces of cord made from plant fiber or sinew were tied to a leather pouch to hold the sling stones.


 

 
 

Native American Weapons:
Spear throwers (called Atlatls)

 Spear throwers called Atlatl were a device used to throw a spear with greater propulsion. They were commonly used by the Pueblo tribe and the Artic and Sub-Artic tribes for hunting large marine animals such as whales.

Atlatl Stick Thrower
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Blowguns
 A Blowgun was primarily a hunting tool used by the Cherokee and many other Native American tribes. A blowgun consisted of a tube made of cane or reed through which darts could be shot by the force of the breath. Also referred to as a blowpipe or a blowtube. Refer to Poisoned Arrow.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Throwing Sticks - Rabbit Sticks
 Throwing Sticks aka Rabbit Sticks were one of the earliest weapons used by Native American Indians. They were a basic short stave or wooden club that had a straight pointed wooden shaft or curved wooden club, similar to the boomerang weapon. Used to hunt small game such as rabbits or water fowl.

 
 Native American Weapons:
Spears
 A spear is a long, pointed weapon, used in war and hunting, by thrusting or throwing


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Hatchets
 A Hatchet Axe is a small axe with a short handle that was used with one hand.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Bolas
 A bola is a rope with weights attached to the ends; is thrown to entangle the legs of an animal or person. The bola was common weapon in South America but was also used by the Inuit Native Americans. 

Inuit Bola
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Battle hammers
 A Battle hammer has a blunt, hammer-like head on one side of the handle or shaft, and usually a beak or point on the opposite side.

Battle hammer
 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Wooden Club
 A club made of extremely hard wood used for close-quarter fighting, sometime referred to as a 'potato masher' club and developed by the Yuma tribe


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Pick Axe Style Club
 The Pick Axe style club was made of either stone or metal blades. These types of clubs had a sharp edge on one side and a diamond shape point on the other side. The blades were attached to a wooden handle. These were used as weapons for hand-to-hand fighting


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Axe-Like Club
 The Axe-like club was made of either stone or metal blades.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Gunstock Club
 The Gunstock Club was so-called because these weapons resembled the shape of a a musket or rifle body and carved in the shape of a European gunstock. Gunstock clubs were widely used across North America in the late 18th and 19th centuries, both as weapons and status symbols. They were often made with hard wood or whale bone and embellished with carvings on the handle.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Stone Ball Club
 The Stone Ball club was primitive but lethal. It consisted of a round-headed stone that was completely covered in heavy buckskin or rawhide and attached to a wooden handle. The head was relatively free-moving and used by the early Plains, Plateau and Southwest Native Indians.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Fixed Ball Club
 The Fixed Ball club was used with the intention of breaking the enemy's jaw with a violent upward thrust.


 

 
 Native American Weapons:
Bird Head Club
 The Bird Head club was elaborately designed to resemble the head of a bird.

 

 
 

Native American Weapons - Guns, Muskets and Rifles

 
 

 

Rifles - the Springfield Rifle and the Winchester Rifle

 

Muskets and Rifles

During the late 1860s that the Native Americans began to acquire up-to-date weaponry from the Europeans. The first modern weapons used by Native Americans in any number were the Winchester rifle and the Springfield rifle. The first documented use of these modern rifles against the opposition was when the Native Americans used them during the battle against General George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

Native American Gun

 
 

Flintlock muskets

 Flintlock muskets are types of early guns. It is a muzzle loader having a flintlock type of gunlock that has flint embedded in the hammer. The flint makes a spark that ignites the charge.

Flintlock Musket
 

 
 

Winchester Rifle

 Winchester rifles were among the earliest repeating rifles. The original Winchester rifle was made in 1866. This gun had a lever-action mechanism that allowed the rifleman to fire a number of shots before having to reload - hence the term "repeating rifle". The Winchester repeater rifle is known as "The Gun that Won the West" for its predominant role in the hands of Western settlers.

Winchester Rifle
 

 
 

Springfield Rifle

 Springfield rifles took their name from the Springfield Armory, established at Springfield, Massachusetts in 1794. Smoothbore muzzle-loading rifles were produced between 1858 and 1865 followed by single-shot rifles and eventually the Springfield repeating rifle.

Springfield Rifle

 

 
 

Carbine Rifle

 A carbine is a longarm similar to, but shorter than, a rifle or musket. A carbine rifle was short enough to be loaded and fired from horseback

Carbine Rifle
 

 
 

Names of Weapons


 

Description of Native American Weapons
 

 

Chart of Native American Weapons

 
 

 

Native American Weapons - The Emergence of New Weapons
The stone weapons of the Native Americans were influenced by the new technology and weapons such as the tomahawk were further developed. developed. The original tomahawks had stone blades when they were changed to metal blades the tomahawk was adopted by the European settlers, traders and hunters. It was therefore not uncommon to ‘marry’ a traditional Native American stone weapon with a European style blade or hilt. The pictures of weapons on this page illustrate the new weapons and the old stone weapons of the Native American Indians.

Native Indian Weapons - The Influence of the Europeans
The white settlers and traders brought  weapons brought advanced weapons from Europe that used technology that was unknown to the Native American Indians and their Stone Age Culture. The European weapons made the use of steel in their knives and swords. They also had strong fire-power using weapons such as the fire-belching arquebus, hand guns, rifles and cannon. The influence of the European style weapons on the Native Americans began in the 1600's when the European colonists and the Fur Traders arrived, necessitating regular contact between the two culture groups. The traders used weapons to trade for furs. The nature of hunting and warfare changed and Native Americans traded for European-style weapons whenever they could.

Native Indian Native American Weapons

 

Native American Weapons

  • Pictures of Native American weapons for kids
  • Description and definition of the Native American Weapons
  • Materials required to make a Native American Weapons
  • Types of Native American Weapons
  • The use of the Native American Weapons and method of fighting
  • Interesting facts and information about Native American Weapons for kids and schools

 

Native American Weapons - Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Native American Weapons. Discover the interesting facts and information which relate to the History of Native American Weapons. The pictures on this site show the weapons and tools that were used by various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - Native American Weapons. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts - a great educational resource for kids providing an unusual insight into their culture.

 

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