Desert life is rough on all inhabitants, particularly the human ones. Tools are an important aspect of any culture, but for Native Americans living in the Southwest desert, the right tools often meant the difference between life and death in a challenging environment. The Native Americans made their lives easier by fashioning tools out of stone, bone, clay, wood and even animal skins, all of which aided their survival.
Clubs were a common tool for Native Americans living in the Southwest desert. Some were made of stone by attaching a round stone to a wooden handle or carving a piece of solid rock. Others were made of wood by carving a solid piece of hardwood into a handle shape with a round, blunt end. While the clubs were likely used to help Native Americans defend themselves from enemies, they may have been used ceremoniously as well.
Bows and Arrows
Native Americans are famous for their bows and arrows, tools which served a dual purpose by helping them to catch food and protect themselves from threats. The arrows are typically made of a wooden shaft with a sharp tip attached to the front and a slit at the end. The bow can be made from wood or bone and has a cord attached to both ends. The split in the arrow allows it to easily fit over the bow’s cord so that when it’s pulled back and released, the arrow is shot towards its target. Bows are arrows are useful tools with a long-range reach that helped aid the survival of desert Native Americans.
Spears and Lances
Thanks to their long-distance reach, spears were another popular tool used by desert Native Americans tribes. Most spear were made from a long shaft of wood with one end sharpened into a point or attached to a sharp tip made of stone. Spears were useful for throwing across long distances or thrusting at short distances into animal or enemy targets. Lances were similar to spears, but with much longer shafts and a bigger tip, which made them easier to use while riding a horse.
Atlatl was another piercing tool designed for use in conjunction with spears. A hollow tube with a container at one end would hold the spear, which gave the thrower increased speed and accuracy. The atlatl helped enhanced the spear throwing experience for Native Americans.
The most useful cutting tool for Native Americans was the knife, which was initially fashioned with a wooden handle and a short blade made of either stone or bone. Eventually, Native American knife blades graduated to steel or iron. Knives were useful for killing animals and preparing food.
The pipe tomahawk was a dual-purpose tool that served as both a hatchet-like weapon and a smoking pipe. Pipe tomahawks included a hollow handle with an axe-like blade on one end and a holding chamber for tobacco on the other. Pipe tomahawks were useful in combat and were also popular for ceremonial purposes that involved smoking.
Animal hides were crucial to Native American survival in the desert. Through a tanning and smoking process, Native Americans would transform animal hides into moccasins to protect their feet from the burning desert sand. Animal hides were also used for clothing and shelter.
Since clay was abundant in the desert, Native Americans put it to good use by fashioning it into jars and other pottery. The pottery helped Native Americans to boil food and store food.