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American Indian Weapons

A blend of innovation and artistry, American Indian weapons reflected a means of protection, resource for hunting, and vehicle for the decorative arts. From finely honed arrowheads to beaded and painted war clubs, American Indian weapons highlight the rich history of these cultures and the ways in which they hunted and defended themselves.

Rudimentary weapons have accompanied humans since their earliest days on the planet. Basic clubs, axes, and spears were used by humankind’s earliest ancestors and were honed from easily accessible materials. As time progressed, weaponry became more refined and more elegant, with decorative motifs and inlaid metals accentuating the handles of bows, hilts of swords, and the sheaths of knives.

American Indians added to this decorative tradition with elaborate painting and beadwork designs, creating beaded handles that often culminated in a matching beaded pendant. Such decoration was often used to commemorate achievements in the field of battle, or included as a symbol of the strength and perseverance of the owner. Today, antique American Indian weapons serve as a reminder of their strength as well as a reflection of artistic expertise.


Quick Facts

  • The oldest documented spear discovered in North America dates to roughly 11,000 B.C. The spear, featuring a fluted tip, has archaeologists rethinking connections between prehistoric and American Indian cultures
  • The axe known as the "tomahawk" was derived directly from American Indian culture. A weapon developed by the Algonquin tribe of predominately northeastern North America, the name itself is a 17th-century Spanish iteration of an Algonquin term for the weapon
  • An Apache painted hide shield appeared in early 2015 at auction at Sotheby’s New York. The shield sold for $62,000, one of the highest prices for such an artifact

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Sellers Who Sell American Indian Weapons


Homestead Auctions

Homestead Auctions

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Austin Auction Gallery

Austin Auction Gallery