Early Cherokee tribes displayed clever ingenuity in their tools and exquisite beauty in basketry. Resourcefulness enabled them to provide food, shelter and protection for their families. Cherokee tribes used the earth to make special weapons and tools. One of the favorite materials of the Cherokee Indians was stone and flint. Because these materials were in abundance where the Cherokee people lived, they made good use of them. The process of making weapons and tools was handed down through the generations.
The Cherokee Spear
One of the most commonly used weapons by the Cherokee nation is the short spear. Usually 3.5 to 4 feet long, the spear was a mainstay for both warfare and hunting. The spear was usually made of river reeds or river cane and was fitted with a type of arrow head called a spear point. The spear predated the bow and arrow by hundreds of years and is one of the oldest known weapons of the Cherokee people.
The Cherokee people also used club-like weapons for in close fighting. One example of a club weapon is the tomahawk. Tomahawks were made of short pieces of wood, indigenous to the region the Cherokee inhabited — such as ash or hickory. These were tied onto the shaft of the stick with rope made of hemp or string. Tomahawks could be thrown and also used as a general tool for cutting purposes. Other club weapons were more hammer-like, having rounded, instead of pointed, stone on the end. These clubs could be used as blunt force weapons.
The Cherokee sometimes used blow guns that were anywhere from 3 to 9 feet in length. The blow guns could be used to hunt small animals or in battle. What made the blow guns special was the poison darts that were loaded into the blow gun. The poisons came from plants and sometimes poisonous snakes.
From prehistoric to modern times, Cherokee women have traditionally weaved baskets that are both beautiful and functional as tools. River reeds, tree bark, honeysuckle and plant-based dyes served as raw materials. Baskets could be woven into many shapes such as square or circular and had single or a double handles depending on the purpose. Warriors used them to carry weapons in battle, and women found them handy for storage or picking berries. Some baskets were ornate and weaved in intricate patterns to create pleasing effects.
Bowls were sculpted from clay gathered from the rivers where the Cherokee lived according to the Cherokee Nation. Like modern day clay bowls, the clay was baked using fire to harden it. Designs gave the bowls an ornate look. Many things could be heated in the bowls including corn, game and even a type of whiskey in more modern Cherokee societies. The sizes of the clay bowls also varied depending on the purpose for the bowl.