Indian Weapons

Native American warriors initially used bows and arrows, war clubs, tomahawks, lances and knives during battles with their enemies.

Warriors used the bow while on horseback and was therefore much shorter than the longbow used in Europe. Arrow heads were made of flint, bone and metal. It was claimed that an experienced warrior could fire twenty arrows in the time it took a settler to fire and reload a single-shot musket.

The tomahawk head was made of stone and was usually employed in close quarter fighting. However, sometimes it was thrown from horseback. Knives were employed in a similar way to tomahawks. They were also used for scalping.

Warriors also carried long lances. These were decorated with scalps and feathers.

By the 1860s Native Americans began to get hold of modern rifles such as Springfields and Winchesters. These were used against General George A. Custer and the Little Bighorn.

Primary Sources

(1) Nat Love, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love (1907)

During my short stay with the Indians I learned a great deal about them, their ways of living, sports, dances, and mode of warfare which proved of great benefit to me in after years. The oblong shields they carried were made from tanned buffalo skins and so tough were they made that an arrow would not pierce them although I have seen them shoot an arrow clean through a buffalo. Neither will a bullet pierce them unless the ball hits the shield square on, otherwise it glances off.

All of them were exceedingly expert with the bow and arrow, and they are proud of their skill and are always practicing in an effort to excel each other. This rivalry extends even to the children who are seldom without their bows and arrows.