Tomahawk - Encyclopedia

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TOMAHAWK (a native American word, probably from the Algonquian verb otomahuk, to knock down), the war-hatchet of the North American Indians. The earliest tomahawks were of chipped stone, usually sharpened to a point at each ehd something like a pickaxe, and passed through a hole bored in a stout wooden cudgel. In the more primitive types the stone head was simply tied to the handle by animal sinews, or a withe was doubled over the head and fastened below to form a handgrip. Sometimes deer antlers were used instead of stones. After the arrival of the white man the heads were usually of iron. Where the stone head was sharpened only at one end the blunt end was sometimes cut out into a pipe-bowl, the handle, hollowed, serving as the stem. The weapon was at once symbolical of war and peace, and was ceremoniously buried at the termination of hostilities, to be as formally exhumed when the feuds revived. Hence the colloquialism "to bury the hatchet."

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