Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Ethnographic Weapons

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 1st September 2022, 03:51 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default Use of the Sword by American Indian Tribes

In the queries section of an arms magazine, this image of a portrait of an Indian chief appeared, which clearly shows him wearing what appears to be a European saber. The question asked was, 'did American Indians actually use swords?'.

This painting (attached) is of Etoh Oh Koam, who was part of a delegation of leaders of the Iroquois Nation who were taken to London by the governor of New York in 1710. Queen Anne was notably impressed by these chiefs and they were treated like royalty, and she commissioned artist Jan Verelst to paint this portrait.

He is seen holding his ball type war club, but wearing a European saber of oriental style in the typical side sling position. So would this be a studio prop or possibly his own weapon? perhaps a diplomatic gift?

It is suggested that Indian tribes had acquired swords from Europeans as early as the 17th century, and perhaps the first illustrated record of their use was by a Pawnee warrior against the Spanish Villasur expedition in Nebraska in 1720. However it seems clear that the Eastern Woodland tribes were exposed to European items earlier as suggested, and military style gorgets were presented to the chiefs. Possibly a sword such as this may have been given to one or more chiefs and this was his own?

There were apparently far more situations in the American west in the 19th century with Indian use of the sword, as described in "Long Steel in the Buffalo Grass:The Sabre and the Plains Indian", Wayne Austerman ('Man at Arms" magazine Vol.12, #6, Nov/Dec 1990, pp.10-19).

It is noted (p.13) that the braves had a natural affinity for the captured sword or cavalry sabre due to the familiarity with the war club as the club had much in common with the blade.

In 1834, U.S. Dragoons met with Comanche's in Texas and the warriors were immediately enthralled by the gleaming long knives. it appears that this classic symbol of the U.S.cavalry was ultimately proudly carried by many a Sioux, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Comanche warrior.

In the summer of 1845, Lt. James Carlton of the 1st US dragoons meeting with Siox said, "...a great many of the Dacotahs have swords which they also purchased from the traders. They know nothing about using them but only use them for grandeur".
This observation was patently wrong.

Apparently the Bordeaux Trading Post in Chadron, Nebraska in the 1840s was selling imported swords, many of which were surplus British M1796 sabres.

Interestingly, while it is well known that Custer's troops left behind their sabers when headed for the Little Big Horn, however a number of the Indian warriors there ironically were using them.

The photo of Sitting Bull holding a sabre is was taken in Canada in 1878. This does not suggest he was using one at Little Big Horn, but simply holding this in the sense of these being regarded as symbols of authority and power.
Attached Images
    
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st September 2022, 05:44 PM   #2
Edster
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 348
Default

Jim,

A very intriguing question. My take is as you say swords were mainly used as symbols of authority and power. But no widely used in combat other than maybe anecdotal accounts. As we know the traditional Native American material culture and tool kit, including weapons, was derived from natural materials; wood, reeds, stone, flint, shells, animal skins, etc and not ferrous metals.

Steel trade knives were widely introduced by early 19th C. fur traders. Steel was substituted for flint and chert. They continued as a primary utility tool and weapon; handy and always carried. Other trade items were adopted due to their utility; rifles, pots and Hudson Bay blankets. In the late 19th c. repeating rifles were preferred over the single shot rifles used by the US military, re the Little Big Horn.

Thus swords were too big & awkward, had no utility value and only marginal as a weapon. They did have, in my view, only symbolic value.

Best,
Ed
Edster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st September 2022, 07:01 PM   #3
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

Thank you for responding Ed, I wasn't sure if this unusual topic would meet with much interest, but very encouraged with your observations. To be quite honest, I had always pretty much shared your views, that as ceremonial items and symbolic regalia in the manner of bearing swords etc. was the only likely use for Indian tribes.

It does seem that largely this was true, symbolism in this culture was of course prevalent and case in point, a warriors shield was not intended primarily to defend a warrior physically, but spiritually and carried his totem or symbolic representation of significant beliefs. There were however apparently war shields as well made heavier with thicker leather.

As I added in the 1845 account, the dragoon lieutenant noted that while the Dakota Sioux had a number of swords, they did not know how to use them.
But the author of the article it was in, noted that indeed they did use them in degree.
The native illustrations illustrate using the saber, and from my understanding in studying these kinds of resources, the inclusion of this would be deemed reliable. While there is of course dramatic mythology and metaphysical subject matter in the oral traditions, paintings of events tend to be accurate (despite the rudimentary artistry).

The 'long knife' was indeed awkward, and Indian culture was skilled in the use of primitive weapons, but hardly the use of the saber. What I had not thought of was as the author pointed out, the hacking or slashing use of the saber was similar in action to that of the war club.
In Indian warfare one of the key factors important to the warrior was to reach his opponent, 'up close and personal', and one of the highest honors was to get directly in contact with an enemy and 'count coup'. That is effectively to strike him not necessarily with injury......in the sense..I could have killed you but I didnt.
To kill enemy with arrows or other from distance was not considered honorable or brave to a warrior,, but obviously necessary in overall combat.

However, swords were not always left unaltered, and quite frankly, many blades were cut down, primarily for the lance, which was indeed one of the key up close weapons of the Plains warrior. Naturally as steel was at a premium as Indians had no forging skills or knowledge generally, many blades ended up in knives. However, knives were readily available through traders, just as were guns (and clearly some swords).

Apparently, as the warriors were well aware of the use of the sword by the cavalry, and to have a sword which had been captured was symbolic of the victorious prowess of the warrior. It does not seem much of a reach that warriors would try to use the saber of the 'blue coat', much as they would sometimes take and wear his captured clothing, even carry his flag.

Ironically, the use of the saber was notably diminished by the Civil War in the Union forces, and quite honestly the derisive term 'old wristbreaker' for the heavy M1840 saber was well placed. This was due to lack of training in the use of the sword, and obvious focus on firearms. There were very few recorded injuries from swords in the war, and those that were seem to have been blunt force trauma (the swords were often simply not sharpened).

I had always thought that there was little use of the saber in the 'Indian Wars' but I have found that was incorrect. I had assumed this from knowing that Custer and his forces had left behind their swords before Little Big Horn.
Incredibly, the only use of the sword there was by a number of warriors, and there was at least one sword among various weaponry recovered from the battle.
(see the attached in previous post).

I agree that use of the saber in combat was limited, but was surprised with the well researched data presented in the 1990 article to learn that in degree they were.
The use of the sword symbolically is also detailed, and in one case it notes its use as a symbol of power of the chief, in the case of visitors, the saber would protect them being placed near them so they would not be harmed or threatened. I have not explained that entirely here but simply noted the instances.
Attached Images
  

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 2nd September 2022 at 06:53 AM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st September 2022, 09:55 PM   #4
kronckew
Member
 
kronckew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Room 101, Glos. UK
Posts: 3,966
Default

There are earlier threads here on this subject, I recall a post about a Native American warrior who carried a Japanese katana, how he'd come by it nobody knows.
kronckew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st September 2022, 10:00 PM   #5
CutlassCollector
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Scotland
Posts: 288
Default

Yes, I remember that Wayne. Amazing.
And here is some info.

https://history.nebraska.gov/sites/h...1987Swords.pdf
Attached Images
 
CutlassCollector is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd September 2022, 12:39 AM   #6
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

Thank you guys, there was indeed some presence of Japanese Samurai swords with American Indian tribes in the latter 19th century, but the only real evidence are two examples, this one with Indian scout Dog Child in Alberta sometime pre 1900, the other was one one the wall of Red Cloud's house at Pine Ridge, S.D. in 1890.

I recall talking with Dr Bleed on this some years ago, and this article, and with the Red Cloud example we can only speculate but there seem to be several possibilities. In one case there were diplomats from Japan in Wyoming regions near Red Cloud's agency in 1876 but no record of contact with him. However there were eleven diplomatic ventures by Red Cloud into Washington between 1876-1890 and as Japan had been entertaining diplomatic ventures to Washington in these years (with this theme in the Charles Bronson movie "Red Sun" 1971). It seems reasonable that Red Cloud would possibly have acquired this in those visits.

Dr Bleed spent quite a few years studying in Japan, and knows the swords well, and his notes on the Red Cloud sword are interesting, in that these fittings (handachi) were important and not the sort which might be seen on trade or less than entirely authentic sword.

On the Dog Child sword, this one has more specific provenance, as it coincides with the travel to Japan by the missionary to the Blackfoot in Alberta in 1895 to marry a lady missionary there, and they returned to Fort MacCleod, in Alberta where this photo was taken. Interestingly, this sword is in tachi fittings as is the sword in the Bronson movie.

There was little, if any, possibility of Japanese Nihonto being outside Japan prior to the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, which of course virtually dismissed the Samurai. While the traditions including sword making continued in degree in more covert manner, in the following years numbers of such swords would enter trade situations but not until early 20th century. These were not the same as other European and US swords obviously, and these two known examples were clearly diplomatic.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2nd September 2022, 04:18 PM   #7
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

In reviewing some of the material covered to look further into actual use of the saber as a combat weapon by Indian warriors, in its original state, not altered etc. I wanted to add these excerpts. As many of the recorded events with warriors using the saber are in Indian paintings, it is tempting to think of these as using metaphor or artistic license. However in my view, Indian paintings are depicted rather accurately (despite the rudimentary artistic skills) as actual events are regarded as actually seen, not using symbolic or metaphoric additions. Therefore if a saber is depicted, then it was there. The lack of commonality in the inclusion of swords in paintings corresponds to the notably limited use of it in action. Still, the objective is to show that the saber was used in degree, and effectively when it was.

In a skirmish between US cavalry from Ft. Leavenworth Kansas and Cheyenne warriors May 18, 1865:
"...several of the Cheyennes carried cavalry sabers and used them expertly".
(Austerman, 1990, op.cit. p.15)
It is noted as well that "...the most extensive documentation of the Indian reliance on the saber comes from the Sioux Nation of the Northern Plains".

With that statement followed by the account by Lt. James Carleton of the 1st Dragoons in 1845 encountering Dakota Sioux. In his account he notes they purchased these from 'the traders', but claims they wear them only for grandeur, and that they throw away the scabbard carrying only the blade.

The author notes this assumption was incorrect, going on to describe several instances of effective use of the saber by Sioux and Cheyenne.
It seems unclear why warriors would throw away the scabbard. It is interesting though that the Indians would purchase sabers from traders unless they intended to use them.
The 'grandeur' thing is pretty off center as well. An Indian warrior would not wear unwarranted awards or decoration, such as cavalry swords unless taken as trophy in combat or received as gift etc. This goes to the wearing of symbolic awards such as feathers etc. To do so would fall under the heading of what we know in our times as 'stolen valor'.

While much notation of actual use of the saber by Indian warriors is essentially anecdotal, it seems well placed and supported by contemporary sources despite the rather limited degree of incidental use. Still the sword in this context in my view, must be seen in the same way as it is in the use of the US cavalry, actually used in combat, but also ceremonially on occasion.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th September 2022, 03:08 PM   #8
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 6,662
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster View Post
A very intriguing question. My take is as you say swords were mainly used as symbols of authority and power. But no widely used in combat other than maybe anecdotal accounts. As we know the traditional Native American material culture and tool kit, including weapons, was derived from natural materials; wood, reeds, stone, flint, shells, animal skins, etc and not ferrous metals.
It should be noted that the Tlingit people were forging their own blades from ferrous material at least as early a the 18th century. Before the introduction of steel (either through trade or salvage) they used copper for their blades. There are even known use meteorite as a material for forging blades.
While these were generally dagger length, some of these daggers were as long a short swords (20" or more). They had knives and daggers that were mostly ceremonial, but also made blades meant for fighting and everyday uses.
https://warriorpublications.wordpres...rthwest-coast/
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th September 2022, 07:50 PM   #9
Edster
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 348
Default

David,

Well said. It would be interesting to learn how they got their raw material. Did they smelt and refine iron ore from scratch? Research suggests that iron was independently bloomed & smelted in sub-Saharan Africa from iron-rich sand. The techniques apparently did not arrive via cultural diffusion as had been previously believed.

Best,
Ed
Edster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th September 2022, 09:34 PM   #10
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 6,662
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edster View Post
David,

Well said. It would be interesting to learn how they got their raw material. Did they smelt and refine iron ore from scratch? Research suggests that iron was independently bloomed & smelted in sub-Saharan Africa from iron-rich sand. The techniques apparently did not arrive via cultural diffusion as had been previously believed.

Best,
Ed
I believe in most cases their iron source was from European sources, either as found scrap from ship wrecks and other abandoned resources or gotten in trade. Certainly some of their blades were re-dressed trade blades, but their are quite a god number that they obviously forged themselves.
Here is a link to a dagger in the Met that they date to 1780 which they say could have been either trade iron or from meteorite. I don't think iron/nickel meteorite requires smelting to forge it, though i could be wrong. I have yet to find any definitive information on who the Tlingit learned their forging skills from.
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/717584
And the first article i posted above has this to say about material sources:
"The earliest record of steel blades on the coast comes from the Ozette archaeological site on the Washington coast, where 37 steel-bladed tools and but one beaver-tooth knife were found, indicating the ubiquitousness of the material. Prior to the advent of Euro-American trade, iron and steel would have arrived either via Native trade north from California and Mexico, or in the form of ship’s fittings in Asian wrecks that came ashore on the Pacific coast. Some such shipwrecks arrived as weather-beaten fragments of Chinese or Japanese vessels, while others arrived essentially intact, though dismasted and without their steering rudders, blown out to sea by typhoons along the Japanese coast and carried east by the prevailing currents. In some cases even some crew members survived, to be taken in by the resident populations*. In addition to ship’s fittings, woodworking tools were usually aboard these vessels for maintenance and minor repairs, and were also carried on some sailings as cargo. All of these materials and tools would have had a great impact on Native society and technology."
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th September 2022, 09:43 PM   #11
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 6,662
Default

This is another Tlingit blade said to have been made from meteorite. I cannot confirm this, but i have read that folks believe they were making these meteorite blades even before European contact. But it is very possible they had contact from the Asian side that introduced these arts.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS3b4kEnN20
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 6th September 2022, 11:36 PM   #12
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

David, thank you for posting this, which is really fascinating stuff toward the presence of metal edged weapons in the Northwest Indian culture which also includes the 'eskimo' tribal groups and others to the west. While not directly part of the Plains Indian subject, it is definitely pertinent as trade and influence had virtually no boundaries.

Most of what I have found pertaining to the metal used by these Northwest peoples from Tlingit to the broader Athapaskan groups as noted probably arrived on ship from either wrecks, or often trade vessels. By the late 18th century, the Europeans were aware of their having metal weapons, but as far as known all metalwork was 'cold worked'. Most smaller tools and knives were made from individual sections or pieces of metal termed 'toes', which were eagerly sought in trade.
The meteoric weapons which were apparently from an uncertain number of sources of meteoric iron, were cold worked by shaping and hammering with rocks it seems. The use of meteoric iron was well known among the Inuit and other aboriginal peoples.

I have not yet ever found a resource that mentions the smelting of iron or forging of blades among these peoples, nor of course with any of the American Plains Indians. The only forging of iron I have found was with the Koryak (perhaps via Evenk) far to the west across Bering Strait (with probable Chinese or Japanese influence, W. Fitzhugh, "Crossroads of Continents", p.231).

With the large size and broad shape of these Tlingit knife/swords it is tempting to associate them with the canoe paddles, which though of course wood, were similar in shape and used as weapons.

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 7th September 2022 at 07:27 AM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 09:07 AM   #13
mahratt
Member
 
mahratt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Russia
Posts: 996
Default

glenbowmuseum: Image No: NA-1906-4 Title: Blackfoot warrior with sword. Date: [ca. 1887] Photographer/Illustrator: Ross, Alexander J., Calgary, Alberta. Subject(s)
Attached Images
 
mahratt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 10:40 AM   #14
mahratt
Member
 
mahratt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Russia
Posts: 996
Default

I think that in the second half of the 19th century, long saber blades were used most often as attributes of power. At the same time, in the 18th century and earlier, European long blades were undoubtedly used by the local population of America as weapons.
Detail of hide painting sent to Switzerland from Sonora, Mexico in 1758 by Philipp Segesser (1 September 1689 - 28 September 1762). Assumed to represent the 1720 defeat of the Villasur expedition. Supposedly shown in the image is José López Naranjo and Fray Juan Minguez.
Attached Images
   
mahratt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 01:26 PM   #15
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 9,044
Red face Jim not minding with this imense digression ...

Good reasoning, Mahratt. In a (sort of) similar situation we have the swords introduced to African natives in an early stage (XV century) and later becoming symbols of power in the xix century (Mbele a Lulendo).


.
Attached Images
      
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 04:45 PM   #16
David
Keris forum moderator
 
David's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 6,662
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
By the late 18th century, the Europeans were aware of their having metal weapons, but as far as known all metalwork was 'cold worked'. Most smaller tools and knives were made from individual sections or pieces of metal termed 'toes', which were eagerly sought in trade.
The meteoric weapons which were apparently from an uncertain number of sources of meteoric iron, were cold worked by shaping and hammering with rocks it seems. The use of meteoric iron was well known among the Inuit and other aboriginal peoples.
Though it is clear that examples of cold worked meteorite do exist i believe it is equally clear that many of these Tlingit daggers that are dated to the mid and late 18th century are indeed indigenously FORGED weapons. Again, where how they developed these forging kills remains unknown, but there are daggers that were "collected" in the late 18th century by Europeans that obviously were not European forgings. By the 19th century Tlingit forging skills increased greatly, producing large and elaborately fullered daggers. So while there may not be much evidence of indigenous smelting i believe there is plenty of evidence of indigenous forging.
David is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 06:22 PM   #17
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
Though it is clear that examples of cold worked meteorite do exist i believe it is equally clear that many of these Tlingit daggers that are dated to the mid and late 18th century are indeed indigenously FORGED weapons. Again, where how they developed these forging kills remains unknown, but there are daggers that were "collected" in the late 18th century by Europeans that obviously were not European forgings. By the 19th century Tlingit forging skills increased greatly, producing large and elaborately fullered daggers. So while there may not be much evidence of indigenous smelting i believe there is plenty of evidence of indigenous forging.
Thank you David.
My knowledge of metallurgy is pretty shallow, so it in interesting with this to learn more. I know that the use of meteorite iron is a well known attribute in your field of study, the keris, so I am wondering, was this meteorite metal used wholly, or alloyed with other metals in forging?
It does not seem that cold forging would achieve the kind of structure that would allow channeling/fullering etc.

I am inclined to agree with what you are saying on these Tlingit knives, the complexity of the channeling and the shapes of the blades seem to exceed any potential of fabrication with scrap or trade item repurposing. It does not seem that 'cold work' would accomplish this level of detail.

While as you say there is no evidence of smelting in these regions, after more reading on the indiginous peoples across the Bering did seem to have forging skills as noted from Japanese and Chinese influences. With the amount of trade and contact throughout these tribal groups it would be entirely reasonable for them to have at least some degree of absorbing of these skills and from cold working to actual forging is not that great a leap.

The question then would be from where was the iron obtained, and I wonder if there might have been some degree of trade ingots brought in.
The structure of these Tlingit knives is remarkable, and it would be great to examine them more thoroughly.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 06:44 PM   #18
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
Though it is clear that examples of cold worked meteorite do exist i believe it is equally clear that many of these Tlingit daggers that are dated to the mid and late 18th century are indeed indigenously FORGED weapons. Again, where how they developed these forging kills remains unknown, but there are daggers that were "collected" in the late 18th century by Europeans that obviously were not European forgings. By the 19th century Tlingit forging skills increased greatly, producing large and elaborately fullered daggers. So while there may not be much evidence of indigenous smelting i believe there is plenty of evidence of indigenous forging.
Thank you Fernando......not really a digression but key perspective by analogy of how native peoples often would adopt outside influences into their own culture, and often revere them as seen here.
It seems well known that the African tribal groups typically had varying levels of metal working skills, but West Africa seems to have used more of the sift, yellow metals. However there were certainly smiths fully capable of working iron, and interesting to see how they carefully duplicated these Portuguese swords and were seen as holding resounding power.

The swordsmanship of the Portuguese explorers was probably seen as their ability to harness the power and magic of the sword. This is a common perception with native peoples as weapons foreign to them were seen in the sense of magic, much as imbued in their own weapons. In the cases of swords I think this was recognized as a formidable force, and only the most powerful in a native tribe could hold such a weapon. In these cases I think that these were a kind of 'bearing' weapon as often seen in tribal cultures in Africa in rituals, and various ceremonies or events.

With the American Indian tribes, it was a dual reaction. While the 'long knives' were seen representing the power of the warrior in cases of weapons captured from the Blue Coats, they were often seen as imbued with similar kinds of power as used by chiefs. In these instances the sword held a kind of metaphysical power that symbolized that of the chief. This was for example as in the case of a visitor to the tribe who was to be protected, the chiefs sword was placed near the entrance, in effect....a warning, anyone who tries to breach this sanctity will face the wrath of the chief (as his sword declares)..

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 8th September 2022 at 07:28 PM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 06:52 PM   #19
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mahratt View Post
I think that in the second half of the 19th century, long saber blades were used most often as attributes of power. At the same time, in the 18th century and earlier, European long blades were undoubtedly used by the local population of America as weapons.
Detail of hide painting sent to Switzerland from Sonora, Mexico in 1758 by Philipp Segesser (1 September 1689 - 28 September 1762). Assumed to represent the 1720 defeat of the Villasur expedition. Supposedly shown in the image is José López Naranjo and Fray Juan Minguez.

Thank you so much for adding this of the Segesser paintings!! which were mentioned earlier as one of the earliest recorded uses of the sword by American Indian tribes. I had the great opportunity to view these in New Mexico in research in which these paintings also showed the presence of a different kind of cuera (leather jacket) than previously known in Spanish colonial culture of the period.

That picture of the Blackfoot with a M1822 British cavalry sword is outstanding! and this is probably of course a studio photo with that sword possibly being one of the CDV props, as common practice of the time. It surely adds context to the presence of these swords in these environments, and begs the question, if the individual saw the sword there and requested being photographed holding it as something known in practice in these times in his tribal setting. Here I would say however that having seen the other images from this museum and in Alberta, it does seem that it is very possible this sword belonged to the warrior, as with the other example seen in earlier post.

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 8th September 2022 at 07:25 PM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 07:33 PM   #20
Tim Simmons
Member
 
Tim Simmons's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: What is still UK
Posts: 5,581
Default

The use of metals in the Americas has been a fascination for me for some time. I had the opportunity to go to Mexico City and Lima where in museums you can see the use of nonferrous metals and alloys to make decorative and functional objects mainly weapons. Not being able to examine pieces I could not tell whether the objects where formed by casting alone or by a combination of casting and swaging as in , forging iron and steel , using stone hammers and shaped stone formers. It is not rocket science. A bell with a pea in it is a simple example of manipulating metal. There has been archaeological finds in Alaska of ancient bronze objects you can find about recent finds searching the internet. As has been mentioned the manipulation of metal by the Native Americans is undeniably sophisticated. In the pacific north west metal marvels where made. The Inuit also work metal. I do not want to appear to be a Graham Hancock fan though underwater towns are there, I think iron working has been done long before the European US conquest of the Americas. I am not saying there was smelting 'unless archaeological proof is found' but I do think that iron most probably did arrive early. If you think of the south pacific islands in the late 18th and early 19th century. Metals arrived in islands that where on trade routes first and island not on trade route would not have metals until much wider trade and colonisation. I suggest that south pacific island could not express there culture and art in metal as the North West Pacific native Americans did and do because metal working was new. The work by the north west pacific peoples could have been developed to such brilliant achievement through an old north pacific maritime trade route which for some reason stopped not unlike many trade route in history. Just a suggestion, you know how long held views often get challenged and with evidence can be found wanting.
Tim Simmons is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th September 2022, 09:49 PM   #21
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 9,044
Default Of rituals ... and symbols

Drawings of remnants of personalities buried in tombs #4, #5 and #12 with their swords, in Kindoki, Mbanza Nsundi, Low Congo,
And a portrait of Mfutila, King of the Congo Kingdom, who succeeded his father in 1892.


.
Attached Images
    
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th September 2022, 01:02 AM   #22
werecow
Member
 
werecow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Location: Leiden, NL
Posts: 166
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by David View Post
This is another Tlingit blade said to have been made from meteorite. I cannot confirm this, but i have read that folks believe they were making these meteorite blades even before European contact. But it is very possible they had contact from the Asian side that introduced these arts.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS3b4kEnN20
These are very interesting looking. It reminds me of Tebu swords and daggers, with that stabby pommel.
werecow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th September 2022, 08:21 AM   #23
Tim Simmons
Member
 
Tim Simmons's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: What is still UK
Posts: 5,581
Default

Bronze find Alaska.

https://www.colorado.edu/today/2011/...chaeology-site

The problem for archaeological research is why and where to dig, if you do not believe it is there.

Last edited by Tim Simmons; 9th September 2022 at 02:11 PM. Reason: spelling
Tim Simmons is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th September 2022, 07:45 PM   #24
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

Having artifacts and items from remarkably distant and seemingly disconnected cultures and regions is far from uncommon, though typically unusual.
I recall a sword from an Indian tribe in Vancouver that belonged apparently to a 'turtle clan' (the accounts called them 'turtle people'), but was clearly a Sinhalese kastane, a sword from Sri Lanka.

It was unclear how this came into these regions, but if I recall correctly in the ledgers of a Hudsons Bay Co. official, in the inventory of goods traded, there were three 'dragon' swords. This might apply to the zoomorphic head on the pommels of these which were supposed to be lions but in the elaborate design could be taken for dragon heads.

Among American Indian tribes there are items which were apparently from trade that came from far to the south including Inca, Mayan and of course Aztec, and items from the east from 'Mound People' and other tribes. There were shells and items from tribes to the west as well.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th September 2022, 01:56 PM   #25
colin henshaw
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,425
Default

Certainly an interesting topic and its good to see American Indian weapons being discussed on the forum. Coincidentally, I have just finished reading an excellent and scholarly essay by James A. Hanson on this very subject of swords used by American Indians. The essay is contained in "The Encyclopedia of Trade Goods - Gun Accessories & Hand Weapons of the Fur Trade" published by Museum of the Fur Trade, Chadron, Nebraska, USA., 2021.

From what Hanson says, it seems the use of swords by Native Americans was more extensive than previously thought. He states " By the early eighteenth century most tribes had readily adopted the European weapon" and "the Sioux and Cheyenne used such weapons in numerous documented cases" and other similar statements. There are many reproduced photos and pictures of American Indians with swords in the essay.

There is also an essay on North West Coast and Northern knives in the book; it seems there was indeed some forging of steel knives by the Native Americans themselves... a quote.. "McKennan reported that the Yukon antenna knives were made by the Tanana who used old steel files".

In my view the encyclopedia is an excellent resource for anyone interested in Native American weapons etc.

Moderators - I hope these quotes are OK in respect to copyright, if not please delete them. I have not reproduced more images etc from the book for this reason.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by colin henshaw; 14th September 2022 at 06:57 PM.
colin henshaw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th September 2022, 01:04 AM   #26
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 9,024
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin henshaw View Post
Certainly an interesting topic and its good to see American Indian weapons being discussed on the forum. Coincidentally, I have just finished reading an excellent and scholarly essay by James A. Hanson on this very subject of swords used by American Indians. The essay is contained in "The Encyclopedia of Trade Goods - Gun Accessories & Hand Weapons of the Fur Trade" published by Museum of the Fur Trade, Chadron, Nebraska, USA., 2021.

From what Hanson says, it seems the use of swords by Native Americans was more extensive than previously thought. He states " By the early eighteenth century most tribes had readily adopted the European weapon" and "the Sioux and Cheyenne used such weapons in numerous documented cases" and other similar statements. There are many reproduced photos and pictures of American Indians with swords in the essay.

There is also an essay on North West Coast and Northern knives in the book; it seems there was indeed some forging of steel knives by the Native Americans themselves... a quote.. "McKennan reported that the Yukon antenna knives were made by the Tanana who used old steel files".

In my view the encyclopedia is an excellent resource for anyone interested in Native American weapons etc.

Moderators - I hope these quotes are OK in respect to copyright, if not please delete them. I have not reproduced more images etc from the book for this reason.

This is excellent Colin!!! and Mr. Hanson is a remarkable authority, as is the publication of this museum...I wish I had the full run of these quarterlies!
It does not surprise me that some forging or more involved metal work was done by certain tribes as they were skilled and innovative at using virtually everything. It is good that you are cautious in using copyrighted material and here I would just add my understanding, that limited use of quoted material is permitted in scholarly study as long as properly cited.

Thank you for the heads up on this book.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 01:22 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.