Cherokee Weapons

Arrowheads were made from various kinds of stone but flint was considered the best. Not only because it was so hard, but also because flint is easier to chip into "flakes" with sharp edges than most other hard rocks.

A favorite tool for chipping arrowheads into shape was the deer antler. A piece of rock was first broken into smaller pieces by using a hammer stone, then the most likely pieces shaped into arrowheads by chipping away with a smaller hammer stone and with deer antlers.

Spear points were made in the same way; they were just larger in size and shaped a bit differently. Some spears were made entirely of hard wood; the points sharpened by hand and then hardened in a fire.

Stone weapons, tomahawks and battle hammers were made from rocks of the correct overall shape by sharpening one edge and grinding a binding groove around the stone using other, harder stones. The groove was made so that the stone could be tied to a handle with rawhide. Other hammers and axe-type weapons also were used; sometimes a knot in a root or branch with a convenient handle made a good battle axe.

The Cherokee used blowguns mainly for taking small game but occasionally used them in warfare. Blowguns ranged from three to nine feet in length. The darts were made of hard woods. The back end of the dart was fitted with thistledown to form a seal and help center the dart in the blowgun. A sharp breath blown into the barrel behind the dart would send it traveling at a great speed. With practice, these blowguns could be very accurate.

Darts used in warfare were generally poisoned. Venomous snakes were sometimes made to strike a piece of spoiled meat, then the dart points were pushed into the meat to absorb the venom. Certain plant juices and extracts known to be poisonous were also used as coatings for the darts.

Infomation provided by the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center. For information regarding culture and language, please contact: culture@cherokee.org.