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Knowledge about Native Americans

Tomahawks

The “hawk”, or better known as the tomahawk, is an axe, also spelled "ax", native to North America. It takes on the appearance of a hatchet with its straight shaft. The word “tomahawk” comes from a Powhatan Indian word translated into English language in the 17th century. Originally intended to be used as a hand-to-hand, or thrown, weapon, the tomahawk evolved into a general all purpose tool.

Spheroidal beads known as seed beads are consistently shaped and range in size from less than a millimeter to that of several millimeters. "Seed bead" is the generic term that describes all small beads used as spacers between other beads when stringing a beaded necklace, loom or off-loom bead weaving, or simple stringing.

Artifacts refer to those items or objects produced by "man". Utilitarian or ceremonial, refined or crude, aesthetically beautiful or ugly, artifacts are a reflection of man's ability to make art, his techniques, and his skills. It represents his capabilities of using prior knowledge regarding ideas and concepts to develop his own particular style.

Traditionally, the tomahawk is a type of axe native to North America that resembles a hatchet with a straight shaft. The word tomahawk made its way into the English language in the 17th century as a transliteration of the Virginian Algonquian word. The general purpose of the tomahawk was it was used as a tool by Native Americans and European Colonials alike, and it was also employed as a hand-to-hand or a thrown weapon. Originally, the tomahawk featured a stone head, but later, iron or brass heads were used. Metal tomahawk heads were based on a Royal Navy boarding axe and used as a trade-item with Native Americans for food and other provisions.


Usually, the tomahawk shaft is less than 2 ft. in length and made of hickory. The heads are range between 9 to 20 ounces in weight, with a cutting edge that is usually not much longer than four inches from toe to heel. The poll features a small hammer, spike, or it is simply rounded off, and it usually doesn't have lugs. The stone tomahawk heads are typically made of polished soapstone, and ornately carved examples were used in some Native American rituals. These particular tomahawks usually had a pipe-bowl carved into the poll, and a hole drilled down the center of the shaft for smoking tobacco through the tomahawk. Some Native American artisans created metal-headed versions of this unusual pipe. Pipe tomahawks are artifacts that are unique to North America. They were first created by Europeans as trade objects, but were often exchanged as diplomatic gifts. Tomahawks are powerful symbols of the choice Europeans and Indians faced whenever they met. One end of the pipe tomahawk was the pipe of peace, and the other end was an axe of war.


Tomahawk throwing is a popular sport among many American historical re-enactment groups, and some martial arts enthusiasts are trying to revive tomahawk fighting techniques used during the Colonial era with the throwing tomahawk. Today, hand-forged throwing tomahawks are made by master craftsmen throughout the United States.


Today, tomahawks have gained in popularity with the re-emergence of the "Vietnam Tomahawk" by the American Tomahawk Company in the beginning of 2001 and the collaboration with Custom Knife-maker Ernest Emerson of Emerson Knives. Tomahawks designed by the late Peter LaGana included wood handles, a hatchet-like bit and a leather sheath, and they were used by select U.S. forces during the Vietnam War. This type of tomahawk is referred to as the "Vietnam Tomahawk".

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