A tomahawk resembles a hatchet; it has a striking blade and long handle. Most cultures have had a version of a tomahawk. The British had their belt axes, the French wielded the francisca, and the Vikings were infamous for their skill in using axes in battles; in fact, one of the most common traditional styles of fighting tomahawks is still called a “Norse.”
Native Americans used tomahawks as striking and throwing weapons, as well as tools. The name came into the English language in the 17th century as a transliteration of the Powhatan (Virginian Algonquian) word. The first tomahawks had a stone head, such as polished soapstone, and a straight wooden shaft. The heads and handles were usually intricately carved and ornamented. Flint rock, deer horns, and animal jawbones were often used to create tomahawks. Early tomahawks could also be used for smoking tobacco; many times the opposite side of the blade would have a pipe bowl built into it. This dual purpose meant the tomahawk could be used as a smoke peace offering, or it could be used as a weapon if needed.
The tomahawk could be used by itself, or it could be used in conjunction with another weapon, such as a long bladed knife. This effective and deadly combination works for a variety of combat situations, against either single or multiple opponents.
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