Thursday, June 20, 2013

Native American Bow and Arrows and Blow Guns

Native American Bow and Arrow and Blow Guns

The great weapon for hunting was the bow and arrow. Indian bows ranged from frail, weak things, hardly suitable for a child, to the “strong bow” of the Sioux and Crows, which would send an arrow completely through a buffalo; the most powerful Colt's revolver—so Clark says—will not send a ball through the same animal. The Crows sometimes made beautiful bows of elk horn; such cost much labor and were highly valued. Three months' time was spent in making a single one. Arrows required much care in their making. In some tribes each man made all his arrows of precisely one length]different from all others. This was an aid in recognizing them. Many carried with them a measure, the exact length of their arrows so as to settle disputes. This was necessary to determine who had killed a given animal: the carcass belonged to the man whose arrow was found in it.

Among some eastern tribes, and particularly in the south, where fine canes grow near streams, the blow-gun is used. This consists of a piece of cane perhaps eight or ten feet long, which is carefully pierced from end to end and then smoothed inside. Arrows are made from slender shafts of rather heavy and hard wood. They are perhaps a foot and a half long and hardly more than a quarter or an eighth of an inch thick. They are cut square at one end and pointed at the other; around the shaft, toward the blunt end, a wrapping of thistle-down is firmly secured with thread. This surrounds perhaps three or four inches of the arrow's length, and has a diameter such as to neatly fit the bore of the blow-gun. The arrow is inserted in the tube, and a sudden puff of breath sends it speeding on its way. An animal the size of a rabbit or woodchuck may be killed with this weapon at an astonishing distance.