and equipment which were used for war were: shields, battleaxes, tomahawks, slings, war clubs, knives, breastplates, spears,
helmets, bows and arrows.
When the chief war officers
became too old to serve the warriors, they nominated someone from among their own war council to replace them. This nomination
was sent to the great chief of the nation, and if he and his counselors approved of the nominee, the candidate was consecrated.
This was done usually at the feast of the Green Corn in August. However, if there was danger threatening the nation, it was
done within twenty days of the time he was nominated. The old war chief selected four distinguished officers to escort the
candidate to the council house. One of the officers walked in front of him carrying a handful of red paint, one walked at
his left with an eagle feather and the other two walked behind him in silent meditation. A special war dress was made for
him of deerskin which was dyed a deep red color. Everything from his leather shirt to his belt, leggings, garter and moccasins
was a deep red color. In the new war chief's acceptance speech, he said he would not stain his hands with the blood of infants,
women, or old men or anyone that for some reason or another is unable to defend himself.
When war was threatened,
the warriors met at the national headquarters where they came under the command of the chief for warfare. During an emergency
such as a threat of war, the red flag of war was raised. The flag was a long pole painted red which had red painted deerskin
fastened to the top. During a war it was carried by a special flag warrior and was set up at the war party campsites where
they met together after a battle. During these encampments they sang the song and then had the war dance.
In the war dance every warrior
carried his main weapon. The dance itself was lead by the right hand man of the war chief. There was no singing involved but
merely the war hoop and the sound of the drum. The warriors went around the circle each one with his left hand pointing to
the center of the circle where the fire and the war flag were located. It is thought this was a kind of dedication by the
individual warriors to do their best in the upcoming battle. The war dance was known as a "te yo hi." The drum used in the
war dance was a pottery jar that had the top covered with raccoon skin with small bells fastened around the rim.
In marching to war, the
first company of warriors was led by the chief warrior. Then came the second company, headed by this right hand man, and then
the third company headed by his speaker, and the fourth company headed by another officer. The last persons in a war party
were the war priest, who was called the fire carrier, his assistant and two of the medicine men.
the march, there were four spies or scouts who played an important part in the operation (during the Civil War, they
were referred to as "pickets"). Their duties were similar to the enfilade movement of the modern warfare in that they were
responsible for protecting the main force from ambush from the front, the rear and both flanks. The raven spy had a raven
skin tied around his neck and scouted in front; another who had a piece of wolf skin tied around his neck on the right hand
side; one with an owl skin scouted on the left; and one with a fox skin scouted to the rear. The course was marked by the
raven spy who went ahead, breaking bushes and leaving other signs to guide the march.
The battles themselves were
usually brutal hand to hand combat operations carried on in very close quarters. The Cherokees lacked the long range weaponry
that is commonly associated with the Indian wars and the winning of the West simply because that type of weaponry had not
yet been developed.
Following the battle and
upon the war party's return home, the spoils of war were given to the warrior's wife or nearest woman relative. The warriors
who had killed someone or had touched a dead body were considered unclean for a period of four days afterwards. To purify
themselves, it was necessary to bathe themselves and drink only a particular potion. They bathed seven times every night and
every morning. During this time the victory (scalp) dance was danced every night. Sometimes other dances were also performed,
but the warriors were not allowed to dance at all with the women. All the men did not
go on the war parties. Someone was needed to protect the towns. Particularly any warrior who was worried about his wife, family,
or property was told to stay at home.
and equipment which were used for war were: shields, battleaxes, slings, war clubs, knives, breastplates, spears, helmets,
bows and arrows. (See Cherokee Indians: Weapons and Warfare.)
Source: Smoky Mountain National
Native American Weapons. Review From Library Journal:
In this taut and generously illustrated overview, Taylor (Buckskin and Buffalo: The Artistry of the Plains Indians) zeroes
in on North American Indian arms and armor from prehistoric times to the late 19th century, dividing his subject into five
efficient categories. The chapter on striking weapons covers war clubs and tomahawks, cutting weapons include knives from
Folsom stone to Bowie, piercing weapons comprise spears and bows and arrows, and defensive weapons feature the seldom-emphasized
armor both men and horses wore in battle. Most interesting, however, is the chapter on symbolic weapons, which describes how
powerful icons on dress or ornament were used to ward off blows. The illustrations mostly color photos of objects help the
reader see distinctions between, for example, a regular tomahawk and a spontoon or French one. Continued below...
Old paintings and photographs show the weapons held by their owners, giving both a time frame and
a sense of their importance. The text is packed and yet very readable, and the amount of history, tribal distinction, and
construction detail given in such a short book is astounding. This excellent introduction is a bargain for any library. Featuring 155 color photographs and illustrations, Native American Weapons surveys weapons made and used by American
Indians north of present-day Mexico from prehistoric times to the late nineteenth century,
when European weapons were in common use. Colin F. Taylor skillfully describes the weapons and their roles in tribal culture,
economy, and political systems. He categorizes the weapons according to their function--from striking, cutting, and piercing
weapons to those with defensive and even symbolic properties, and he documents the ingenuity of the people who crafted them.
Taylor explains the history and use of weapons such as the
atlatl, a lethal throwing stick whose basic design was enhanced by carving, painting, or other ornamentation. The atlatl surprised
De Soto's expedition and contributed to the Spaniards' defeat.
Another highlight is Taylor's description of the evolution
of body armor, first fashioned to defend against arrows, then against bullets from early firearms. Over thousands of years
the weapons were developed and creatively matched to their environment--highly functional and often decorative, carried proudly
in tribal gatherings and in war. "...Each photo makes a lasting impression."
Recommended Reading: Making Native American
Hunting, Fighting, and Survival Tools: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Traditional Tools (Hardcover).
Description: Making Native American Hunting, Fighting, And Survival Tools is the
definitive instructional guide to making Native American tools and weapons. Author Monte Burch takes the reader through all
the steps of the basic flint knapping of arrowheads and scrapers to the most complex decorating and finishing techniques of
painting and fletching. Of special interest are the chapters dedicated to materials, tools, and the workplace. Readers will
learn how to make digging tools, axes, knives, spear points, arrowheads, baskets, harpoons, fish traps, blow guns, tomahawks,
traps, lances, shields, and so much more. Continued below...
Enhanced throughout with photographs and line illustrations, Making Native American Hunting, Fighting, And
Survival Tools will make an enduring and popular addition to any personal, academic or community library's Native American
Studies Collections and is especially recommended reading for survivalists, authors of western novels seeking authenticity
in their history backgrounds, and students of Native American history and artifacts.
Making Indian Bows and Arrows, The Old Way.
Description: Considered the standard, this exciting Eagle's View edition includes
all you need to know to make powerful and attractive Native American bows with an easy-to-follow text together with numerous
illustrations and photos. The reader is shown how to use both primitive and modern techniques of bow and arrow making. Continued
The book explores in detail acquiring tools and woods; designing the bow to fit your purposes; how to cut
the wood and shape it to your design; how to bring the bow to a perfect arc; methods for recurving and/or reflexing the bow
for added speed; backing the bow with wood, rawhide, intestine or sinew; dozens of ideas and photos for finishing the bow;
photos and instructions for applying a snakeskin back; making quivers and cases with hides, beads and more; arrowsmithing
from natural or modern materials; making bow strings with techniques that are understandable to even the beginning bowyer;
and shooting the way that Native Americans did years ago. Written for the beginning craftsman with over 200 illustrations,
photos, charts and diagrams, this book will be invaluable to anyone interested in traditional weapons of the American Indian,
their material culture and/or early Americana. 119 illustrations; 116 photographs; 5 charts.
North American Bows, Arrows, and Quivers: An Illustrated History. Description: Otis Tufton Mason, the founder of the Anthropologist Society of Washington, details
the history of the archery tools used by the native peoples throughout the North American continent. Hundreds of precise line
drawings showcase the many varieties of bows, arrows, and quivers they crafted, and beautifully rendered images display tools
and materials. Continued below...
Sketched diagrams demonstrate exactly how the arrow points were mounted and the bows assembled. Nearly all
the illustrations are accompanied by an explanatory page of authoritative information, and Mason’s writing reveals his
deep appreciation and admiration of the work he’s presenting and the people who created it.
Bows & Arrows of the Native Americans: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wooden Bows, Sinew-backed
Bows, Composite Bows, Strings, Arrows & Quivers. Description:
A comprehensive account of the history and construction of these unique hunting tools. Bows & Arrows of the Native Americans
is a step-by-step guide that includes information on how to build and care for wooden bows, sinew-backed bows, composite bows,
strings, arrows, and quivers. Continued below...
Enlightening and entertaining, this book has easy-to-follow instructions for readers who plan to make and
shoot their own bows and arrows. It's a must-have text for outdoorsmen, Boy Scouts of all ages, traditional craftsmen, and