Notes on the Bows, Arrows, and Quivers of Various Tribes
Part 7 of 7
Father Morice says that "the only pursuit for which our Dene may be said to have been amply provided with home-made implements was war and its allied occupation, hunting. The offensive weapons in use among them were arrows, spears, lances, and casse-tetes.
"The only really polished stone implement of Dene manufacture was the eaelh or casse tete. The specimen illustrated is of a hard granite stone. A variety of that weapon, similar in form, but more elon gated (being at least twice as long) was usually made of cariboo horn.
"Apart from the common arrows, the Carriers made use of two other varieties of missiles of Sekanais origin. The heads of both kinds were made from cariboo horn. The first of these, called krachaenkwaelh (cut arrow) by the Carriers, was conical in form and not less than 6 inches in length. The broader extremity thereof was hollowed out to receive a wooden shaft which served to dart it off from the bow like a common arrow, with this difference, however, that when in motion the horn point detached itself from the shaft. This projectile was deadly, and intended only for use against an enemy or for killing large game. To shoot smaller game, such as grouse, rabbits, etc., they had recourse to a curiously-wrought triple arrow head consisting of three flat pieces of bone or horn triangular in shape and not unlike the feathers on a sea-otter arrow. These plates were seized to the arrow shaft in several places by sinew passing through the plates and around the wood. The manner of fast ening to the shaft was similar to that delineated in Morice's fig. 14."
The knives were ordinarily made of the common arrow-head flint, but those of beaver teeth were more esteemed.
"Their arrow, common arrow heads, were of two kinds, bone and flint. The first were made of the front teeth of the beaver, reduced by scraping to the required shape. They were reputed the most effec tive. Flint arrow-heads were of different sizes, forms, and material. They are produced in Morice's paper for the sake of comparison with those used by the mound-builders of Illinois and other States of the American Union with which they will be found identical in shape and material, though a distance of at least 2,000 miles separate the Aborigines who made them. He says the 'two marked A and B maybe described as the typical arrow-heads of the Western Denes, and are of the blackish resonant flint, generally used in the fabrication of aboriginal weapons. C and D are composed of a semi-translucent bluish variety of siliceous stone not so common and consequently more prized than the ordinary arrow flint. E represents the most beautiful of all the Dene arrow-heads in my possession. It has been ingeniously chipped from a hard crystalline species of dint, and its form and finish display evidences of, I should say, exceptionally good workmanship. Some are also formed of a whitish siliceous pebble; but the points made therewith are, as a rule, of a rather rough description.'"
"The regular hunting or war bow of the Tse'kehne was of mountain maple (Acer glabrum, Tow) and 5 1/2 feet or more in length. The edges, both inner and outer, were smoothened over so as to permit of strips of unplaited sinew being twisted around to insure therefor the necessary strength. These pieces of sinew were fastened on with a glue obtained from the sturgeon sound, which also did service for all kinds of gluing purposes among each of the three tribes, while still in their prehistoric period. The central part of the bow, which was so thick as to appear almost rectangular, was finally covered with a tissue of differently-tinged porcupine quills.
"Great care was taken to obtain a bow-string impermeable to snow and rain. With this object in view, delicate threads of sinew were twisted together and afterwards rubbed over with sturgeon glue. This first string was then gradually strengthened by additional sinew threads twisted around the first and main cord, each overlaying of sinew being thoroughly saturated with glue. Finally when the string had attained a sufficient thickness for efficient service it was repeat edly rubbed over with gum of the black pine (Abies balsamea).
"A less elaborate bow (fig. 31) is still to this very day in use among the Tse'kehne in connection with the blunt arrow already mentioned. It is of seasoned willow (Salix longifolia), and being devoid of any sinew backing or other strengthening device, its edges are more angular than those of fig. 30. Its string consists merely of a double line of cariboo skin slightly twisted together. The specimen figured above measures 4 feet 10 inches.
"The Carrier bow was never much more than 4 feet in length, and the wooden part of it was invariably juniper (J. occidentalis). Instead of being twisted around as in the Tse'kehne bow, the threads of sinew were glued on the back after the fashion of the Eskimo bow, with this difference, however, that in the Carrier weapon the sinew was not plaited. When a layer of thin sinew strips had been fastened length wise on the entire back of the bow, it was allowed to dry, after which others were successively added until the desired strength had been obtained. A process analogous to that whereby the Tse'kehne bow string was made was followed in cording the string of the Carrier bow."
"The most powerful as well as most artistic weapon is the bow. It is made of beech or spruce in three pieces, curving in opposite direction, and ingeniously bound by twisted sinews, so as to give the greatest possible strength. Arrows, as well as spears, lances, and darts, are of white spruce, and pointed with bone, ivory, flint, and slate.
"They have two sorts of bows, arrows pointed with iron, flint, and bone, or blunt for birds. (Simpson Nar., 123.)
"They ascended the Mackenzie in former times as far as the Ram-parts to obtain flinty slate for lance and arrow-points. (Richardson's Jour., vol. I, p. 213.)
"One weapon was a walrus tooth fixed to the end of a wooden staff. (Beechey's Voy., vol. I, p. 343.)
"At Coppermine River arrows are pointed with slate or copper. (Hearne's Travels, pp. 161-169.")