A gallery of original tomahawks for the last Tuesday in 2019, which is now Tomahawk Tuesday. Many of these are pipe tomahawks, which if you’re not familiar with them, was a cleverly conceived invention made for the North American Indian trade. It combined a pipe and a metal axe into a single trade item, both of which were highly prized by American Indians. It was a huge hit on the trade market, and extended to widespread use by American white frontiersmen as well, as indicated by the “M.M.” pipe tomahawk pictured below, which appears to have been specially made and used by a white guy.
Some of these go back to the 17th century, as is the case with the small early forged axe which was excavated at Jamestown, and which belonged to Harold Peterson. In the early days of Jamestown, these metal axes were big ticket items with the natives around the Jamestown area. Despite what many people think, the tidewater Virginia natives were already well acquainted with european metal axes, even before the Jamestown settlers arrived, due to trade with the Spanish, and earlier settlement attempts. They weren’t widespread, but they were known, and highly desired. A black market trade developed between the Jamestown settlers and local natives, causing the leaders of both sides to attempt to plug it, since it diluted their power and deflated the value of their goods.
To me, holding an original tomahawk brings history to life like nothing else, inevitably leading you down the path of wondering where it had been, and what it saw.
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