Tlingit Weapons

The Tlingit are a family of Native American Indian tribes that inhabit the South Eastern Panhandle of Alaska, the Yukon and British Columbia. The Tlingit were a warlike people. Until the late 1700's as Russian fur trappers established trading posts on Tlingit lands, the Tlingit Weapons were those common to native peoples. According to the eyewitness account of French explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup Le Perouse in 1786 the Tlingit Weapons included wooden lances, daggers and bow and arrow for both hunting and in battle. The Tlingit constructed their arrow of long wooden shafts with copper, bone or slate used for the arrow heads. Father Juan Antonió Garcia Riobówhile traveling with an earlier Spanish expedition in 1779 observed about Tlingit Weapons, The Tlingit's "possess many lances and knives. The iron spearheads were about 8 inches, but some were wide and up to 24 inches long. Knives were "short with double cutting edges like a carpenter's plane", and some "longer than a bayonet with spiral or v-shaped handles"

In addition to offensive weapons, Tlingit weapon arsenals included defensive ones. Some Tlingit fashioned a type of armor made out of wooden rods tied together to protect themselves from attack by enemy arrows. As trade with the Russians and Europeans increased, the Tlingit's were able to trade sea otter pelts for metal coins. They redesigned their armor using the coins to improve the armor's protective function. They also wore carved wooden helmets covered in rawhide.

The Tlingit used canoes for travel, hunting and warfare. While experienced canoe builders in their own right, the Tlingit traded with the Haida tribes for war canoes. The Haida canoes were more than 60 feet long. Made from cedar, the war canoes were ocean worthy.

There was often tension between the Tlingit tribes and the Russian fur trappers starting in the 18th century and well into the mid 19th century. By 1801 the Tlingit were able to trade with the British representatives of the Hudson's Bay Company for muskets and gun power in exchange for proprietary trading rights. As it often happened, the introduction of guns, native innovation in weaponry eventually ceased.





American Indian Topics





Native American Indians




American Indian Art




Southwestern Resources




Indians Misc.




American Indians