Artifacts

Tomahawk with beads
ITEM: NMEMG 24_1913
LOCATION:
AGE:
TRIBE:
DESCRIPTION:

Iron Blade with pipe bowl cast at back; black wooden handle, also serving as pipe stem, with mouthpiece at end. Ornamented with leather work; scratched line design and string of coloured beads.

That this tomahawk features a pipe-bowl gives the object great spiritual importance to the user, and illustrates how Native American spirituality encompassed, as it does to a large extent today, every aspect of daily tribal life. The beads are particularly interesting. If this tomahawk was made for a warrior then the beads could be a means to infuse the user with supernatural powers to ensure victory. If not, the beads could be a mark, or marks, of bravery earned from exploits on the battlefield. That this tomahawk features a pipe bowl suggests that it would have been owned by a chief, or someone of high importance. Its brass blade suggests that the user and his band had adopted much of European technology, and incorporated it into traditional ways of life. The use of brass, therefore, gives social status much like the pipe-bowl gives spiritual status. That a tomahawk can be used as a robust weapon for its light weight and durability, and that it can be used in one hand, mean that the user would most definitely have been of high status as a military, diplomatic and spiritual leader.

If this tomahawk did belong to a chief and had increased spiritual significance, then it was unlikely that Brenchley would have acquired it easily. He either had to barter hard, and may have had objects with which the tribe needed. On the other hand, this could have been another object the Brenchley took without consent.