Tools Used by the Cherokee Indians

Written by larisa cox
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Tools Used by the Cherokee Indians
Wigwam is a common Cherokee home. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The Cherokee Indians were once a large population with rich culture and history. Before the Europeans reached the North American continent, the Cherokee tribes spread across the modern-day states of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The American Indians and the Europeans didn't manage to live in peace. According to a law passed in the mid-1800s, all Indians in the East, including the Cherokee, had to move West to the Indian Territory in modern-day Oklahoma. This law forced the migration known as the Trail of Tears.

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The Cherokee were skilful warriors and hunters. In fact, many tools they applied for hunting they also used in warfare.

A popular hand-to-hand weapon and an all-purpose tool was a tomahawk, which resembled an axe. It featured a straight handle and a stone, brass or iron head. The tomahawks usually were less than 2 feet long. Stone weapons and battle hammers also were made from rocks.

The Cherokee used blowguns as hunting and war tools. The guns were from 3 to 8 feet in length. The also made darts of hardwood with the "fluff," or end, made of thistledown. These tools were powerful weapons capable of shooting darts with great speed and accuracy. Darts used against enemies usually were poisoned.

The Cherokee used hardwood to make arrows. Later the Cherokee were among the first to make iron arrows. Arrowheads were made from various kinds of stone but mainly flint. The Cherokee used the deer antler for chipping arrowheads. Spear points were made similar to arrowheads or from wood, which was hardened in fire.

Another tool the Cherokee used, the bow, was not introduced until the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s. It proved to be an effective weapon against enemies.

Fishing and Hunting

Blowguns, as well as the bow and arrows were used for hunting small game. The bows usually were made from hickory and the strings from bear hairs.

Other tools such as spears and fishing poles indicate that the Cherokee included fish in their diet.


Tomahawks as well as axes often were used for wood working.

Other common tools used by the Cherokee Indians included stone adzes, which are hand axes for woodworking, and flint knives to skin animals.

The Cherokee engaged in trade with other tribes for various items, including sea shells, from which they made earrings and necklaces. Necklaces and animal figures carved from wood, bone and stone also were common. Cherokee women made baskets from river reeds.

Farming and Housekeeping

The Cherokee used wooden hoes for farming and pots and baskets for storing corn. The Indians made the baskets waterproof and used them directly on the fire for cooking. They sometimes put hot stones into the baskets to make tea or soup. Bowls, which often featured contrasting colours, were made from river clay and baked in an open fire.

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