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By Captain John G. Bourke, U.S.A.
From: Arrows and Arrow-Makers, The American Anthropologist, Vol. IV., No.1, pp. 71-74. Washington D.C., January, 1891.
Part 1 of 2

The arrows of the Apaches were specially well made. Their excellence was easily accounted for, as the main part of the shaft was made of the reed called in the Apache language the "klo-ka" or "arrow grass," which needed no straightening, whereas all those made by the tribes about them had to be straightened by a process which involved much labor and the loss of much time.

The myths of the Apaches relate that they first obtained their arrows from their gods, and that the tribe sprung from a reed swamp, and that the gods had put tips of obsidian on the shoulders of the Apaches, or, as we may make bold to translate it, had put the obsidian-tipped arrow in the quivers on their shoulders.

It is an interesting philological fact that the Apache name for bullet is "ka," or arrow. Our bullets, indeed, are only arrows propelled in a new way, as might be shown by making a vertical section of a bullet, which would be nothing more or less than a double-tanged arrow.

Mr. Edwin A. Barber, in the American Naturalist, described nine different kinds of arrow-tips. Each and every one of these various shapes could be seen among the Apaches to-day, and often in the same quiver several shapes would be found.

William M. Gabb, in Trans. Am. Philosophical Society, has shown that the natives of Costa Rica never barbed their arrows. Although the Apaches generally used barbs of obsidian or of sheet-iron, they also made them simply of triangular pieces of hard wood, and I have now in my collection specimens so made which in all respects resemble those first seen by Columbus upon reaching this continent. (See Letters of Columbus, in Hakluyt Society, vol. 2, p. 6, London, 1847.)

Fragments of beer bottles were utilized in making the arrow-tips,

and as far back as 1709 Lawson, in his account of the Carolina Indians, mentioned having seen such arrows. The accuracy of his statement was doubted by Squier and Davis in Smithson. Contrib., vol. 6, p. 213, but for what reason it would be difficult to say. There have been too many intelligent observers of the practice, which, after all, is a natural one, as brown glass so closely resembles obsidian that the Apaches call it "dolguini" (obsidian).

Indian Ballistics.—I have made it my business to ascertain whether or not the American Indian had such a science as ballistics, or the science of constructing bows and arrows according to standard measurements, dependent upon the height of the bowman. I found that such was the case, as may be seen by referring to my article in the last volume of this journal.[12] There it was shown that the flint or obsidian tips could be made in from five to eight minutes by the watch, and, contrary to what has been said, there did not seem to be any difference in the toughness of the material, whether buried under ground or exposed to the elements. This might be accounted for by the fact that Arizona is such a dry country, so little rain falling there.

In regard to the modes of feathering, I merely wish to supplement what has already been said. There seemed to be several methods, for each of which I have authorities; there was the method in use among the Apaches, of placing three feathers longitudinally and equidistant; there was the method of using only two feathers, as shown by Morgan, for the Iroquois (League of the Iroq., p. 306); by Mackenzie for the Hare Indians, (who, by the way, are Tinneh of the same family as the Apaches, who never use less than three)- (see Mackenzie, Voyages, London, 1800, p. 46), and by Cremony for the Pimas of Arizona (Life among the Apaches, p. 103). Some tribes gave a spiral twist to the feathers (see, for the Uabes of the Amazon, Wallace's "Amazon," London, 1853, p. 493; Corbusier, for the Apache-Yumas, in American Antiquarian, November, 1886; Mason, for the Hoopas, in " Science," and Morgan, for the Iroquois, as above).