The name tomahawk originated with the Algonquin Native American, not just used by them, the tomahawk has been used by many Native American tribes. Mainly the tomahawk was carried by warriors and used for close hand to hand combat.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Native American tomahawk was made out of deer antler and stone. The tomahawk had to made lightweight so it could be balanced and thrown with grave accuracy. With the influence of the Europeans metal heads like pewter, steel and brass began to replace the traditional throwing tomahawks.
As time went on the new Americans started making extremely intricate design made out of silver and other materials to present to Native American chiefs and leaders for treaties and to create friendships. Ceremonial tomahawks were decorated with feathers, and they often had a stem fixed at the end with a pipe bowl for smoking. Amongst some Native American tribes, the tomahawk was buried when peace was attained with a former enemy. It is believe this is where the phrase, "burying the hatchet" originated.
The earliest definitions of these words applied to stone-headed implements used as tools and weapons. Subsequent references involved all manner of striking weapons; wood clubs, stone-headed axes, metal trade hatchets, etc. As the years passed a tomahawk was thought of as any Indian-owned hatchet-type instrument. That association changed somewhat as white frontiersmen (traders, trappers, explorers) came to rely on the tomahawk as standard equipment.
Metals used (in rough chronological order) were solid iron, iron with a welded steel bit (cutting edge), brass with steel bit and lastly, solid brass (which diminished its usefulness as a wood-chopping tool). The end of the head opposite the cutting edge provided a place for a spike, hammer poll, or most ingeniously, a pipe bowl.
With a smoking pipe bowl and a drilled or hollowed handle, the pipe tomahawk became the most popular "hawk" of them all. It developed as a trade good by Euro-Americans for trade with native peoples. Iroquois men traded furs for these sought-after tomahawks. Ornate examples were presented at treaty signings as diplomatic gifts to Indian leaders, who carried them as a sign of their prestige. It was at once a weapon and symbol of peace for over 200 years and was carried, scepter-like, in the majority of photographic portraits of prominent Indian chiefs."
Tomahawk was a small ax that the Indians of North America used as a tool and a weapon. Most tomahawks measured less than 18 inches (45 centimeters) long and were light enough to be used with one hand. Early tomahawks consisted of a head (top part) made of stone or bone mounted on a wooden handle. Some tomahawks ended in a ball or knob instead of a flat blade. After Europeans arrived in America, the Indians traded with them for iron tomahawk heads.
The Indians used tomahawks to chop wood, to drive stakes into the ground, and for many other purposes. In battle, warriors used their tomahawks as clubs or threw them at their enemies. Tomahawks also served as hunting weapons.
The Indians used a pipe tomahawk in religious ceremonies. This kind of tomahawk had a pipe bowl on the head and a hollow handle, and it could be smoked as a ceremonial pipe. The Indians decorated these tomahawks with feathers or dyed porcupine quills.
We feature a large collection of Native American Indian artifacts including authentic and replica tomahawks. This collection includes a plain buckskin tomahawk, throwing tomahawk, and beaded tomahawks. They're a wonderful addition to your home decor.