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A Battle Hammer

Our daughter Jana found this Indian tool on my Mom's farm in northwestern North Dakota. It is 7 1/2 inches long and weighs almost 3 1/2 pounds. I've called it a hammer rock, but technically I think it's a battle hammer. It was designed to be used as a weapon or a tool. The blunt end could grind dried corn, crush shells or chop wood. The pointed end broke up hard dirt or cut through roots when gardening.

The Indian tribes in our area were peaceful nations, so I'm envisioning this as a farming tool. But sometimes they were invaded by warring tribes, and they knew how to defend themselves when necessary. This would make a formidable weapon.

The groove formed into it would have been fastened to a wooden handle with rawhide strips. They called this process of attaching the handle "hafting."

The above picture is a piece of flint rock. My siblings and I often found these around the farm. Flint can be different colors--white, black, gray, reddish-brown and green--but I've only seen the dark brown.

Using a flat rock for their "anvil," the natives used a round stone that fit into their palm to chip away flint to form arrowheads--a process called flint knapping. We found broken and whole arrowheads, most of them at the bottom of the coulees where my Dad had a cultivated field. It was probably a perfect hunting area--my brothers and other friends and relatives still hunt there for deer.

(I regret not having any arrowheads. I made a plaque for my Grandma with my collection, maybe six of them, which hung in her dining room for years. After she moved away, someone took them.)

A "flint knapper" was a very important position in an Indian tribe. Most males had the skill, but some were exceptional at figuring out the flaws in a "core" piece of flint, knowing where to strike a break to create the best arrowheads.

I'm quite delighted with the term Flint Knapper. Although they were probably all men, I think I would have loved being a Flint Knapper! What a victory to turn a piece of stone into the lovely (and deadly) creation below.

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