Lances and Spears (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Lances and spears were widely used since ancient times as weapons of battle and hunting; they were also used as symbols in religious ceremonies
The lance and spear were widely distributed hunting and war weapons, but they were used most extensively by the Inuit and Plains tribes. The Inuit used them primarily for hunting. The Plains tribes made most extensive use of them in warfare, probably because they were especially well suited to being thrown from horseback.
The lance originated in ancient times as an effective distance weapon, reducing the risk of injury and producing surer results than could be obtained from using close-quarter weapons such as knives. The distance and force with which the lance could be propelled were significantly increased by means of a throwing stick. The spear or lance consisted of a projectile point, similar to an arrowhead, affixed to a long shaft of wood. The specific materials used and the lance’s form depended on environmental demands and available materials.
Besides being used as weapons for hunting or combat, lances and spears acquired religious and ceremonial significance. Among some tribes they were housed in elaborately decorated sheaths that signified the society, office, or status of the owner.
Sources for Further Study
Taylor, Colin F. Native American Weapons. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.
(The entire section is 218 words.)
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