What Is the Origin of the Expression "Bury the Hatchet"?
Whether it's resolving a conflict with a co-worker or making up with your best friend, it's become common to use the phrase "bury the hatchet" when making peace with someone. It's no coincidence that the phrase's etymology is from a peaceful resolution that happened more than 250 years ago.
On August 19, 1749, four Apache chiefs placed several weapons, including a hatchet, in the San Antonio ground as part of a peace ceremony with the Spaniards, according to the Texas State Historical Association. The ceremony marked the Apache's conversion to Christianity as well as the Spanish commitment to protect the Apache from Comanche raids. Other sources note that the ceremony also commemorated the end of bloody land disputes between the Apache and Spaniards that took place during the 1730s. In 1743, the Spanish set aside pieces of Texas land for the Apache, thus calming tensions between the two groups.
2 Modern Usage
This common phrase is often used to describe situations much less dramatic than that of its historic origins. As with most idioms, it's not unusual to hear a co-worker, friend or family member suggest that the hatchet be buried and that a dispute be squelched. The term has also been used in popular culture, as the name of a documentary, a novel and a popular Garth Brooks song.