Indian War Clubs

Blog Post

A post on CW’s Blog, the Daily Timewaster brought to mind the Indian War Club as a battle weapon.

There were many varieties, but the popularity of using a repurposed broken rifle stock, can’t be over emphasized. Think of that broken stock and a knife sticking through it, and you’re in the ballpark

They made a debut in popular media through the war club carried in the film, “Last of the Mohicans”, but the basic design was in play long before Hollywood grasped the concept. Russel Means played Chingachgook, and portrayed that role faithfully to James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales.

The Boy Scouts* latched onto the legend but did not incorporate Chingachgook’s favorite weapon, the war club, into their lore. It might have been appropriate to train America’s youth to adopt those fighting skills if they wanted to be real. Better to pretend to be an Indian than to behave like one might be the mantra of the modern scouts? Sad really. Genuine woodcraft and warrior culture are a dying art – along with tracking and a number of skills, least of which may be fighting with a war club.

*In the Boy Scout Ordeal Ceremony of the Order of the Arrow, the Legend of the Order  (it is explained to the young initiates) refers to an imaginary Lenni Lenape chief named Chingachgook. In the legend, Chingachgook’s son, Uncas, is the original propagator of the Order. Chingachgook wanted to create a band of volunteers from all the nations of the Delaware River Valley to support and protect their collective interests. Uncas volunteered to be the first member of such a group, and thus the Order of the Arrow was founded.

Daily Timewaster featured Prairie Turtle Otoe (picture right) holding what appears to be his version of a war club. There were possibly as many varieties of war clubs as there were warriors who carried them. Everything from a knobkierie style club to a modified rifle stock to a tomahawk to a shillelagh style stick (no, likely not from the black thorn tree native to the British Isles). Rifle stocks, made from curly maple, cherry and walnut were nicely finished with generally good grain and they were less likely to break than some locally available wood, depending on the location of the native American who wanted to carry a club.
Original War Club

Original War Club
Originals were/are generally in the 24-32″ x around 1-1.5″ thick x up to 8″ wide – the one in the Last of the Mohicans movie was made deliberately oversize (about 33%), although there are some pictured by G Catlin approaching that size.
John Baldwin’s book is seminal “Indian Warclubs” (available from item # 4153-004-255) Note the photo from that book and the description below. 

Then as now, a warrior’s weapons reflect his personal style, his preferences and there is always an underpinning of lethal art. That art was reflected in a warrior’s dress as well as it told his story. There were successful warriors and less successful warriors. It was a matter of luck and of personal initiative. 
They had no notion that were “owed” anything or that they “deserve” anything. For a warrior, life is competition. You need to look no further than nature. If a lion sits around all day and decides not to hunt, it doesn’t eat. If it doesn’t eat, it dies. Simple. Brutal. Reality.

Times have changed and today we have compassion for the weakest among us. We see others who will not work, will not put out effort, and we refuse to let them starve. We make sure they have what they need to survive. We, the capable, the workers, decide that we will not let another human being die while we have the means to prevent it. And we may not be doing society any favors in the long term.  Government uses tax dollars to create a dependent class that it uses to generate votes. It raises them like cattle for those votes, feeds them, keeps them dependent, kills the warrior within them.

13 thoughts on “Indian War Clubs

  1. New tech trumps old tech every time. Brandishing a war club at a cavalry trooper who has his Colt side arm unholstered explained much about why the American Indians wound up on the losing side of the argument.

  2. Much of it requires a time stamp. In 1740, in the dense hardwood forests of the Eastern Seaboard when the firearm was an unreliable flintlock…and it was raining, I think that you'd give odds on the club.

    Cap and ball firearms were naturally more reliable and by the time fixed ammunition came around, they were very reliable.

  3. Looking at those deadly war clubs reminds me of Lee Enfields, for some reason. Lack of 303 ammo?

  4. A war club or a tomahawk doesn't run out of ammunition.

    I'm not anti-firearm in the slightest but there is something in the crude simplicity of a tomahawk or war club that appeals to what progressives might term, "my crude and simplistic nature" (clinging to God, guns and so forth).

  5. I don't know LL. Some of those sure look like "powerful assault" war clubs. Gersh Kuntzman would get PTSD just hefting one of those.

  6. LSP – You made me LOL coffee all over my keyboard. I was thinking the same thing.

  7. I LOVE this piece on war clubs! Not just because I'm an Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow and been through the Ordeal. You make a good point about how BSA has never lived up to their potential OR stated goal of preparing young men to be REAL warriors in the model of Chingachgook. It's exactly why I was not sorry both my sons dropped out of scouts and did other things instead, like going on to be Police Explorers and military and just focusing on backcountry skills via hunting and other independent ways. BSA has been feminized and sexualifusionized.

  8. Yes, it has been feminized and corrupted. I was council commissioner for the California Inland Empire Council (33,000 boys) a few years ago and saw how the sausage is being made these days. It put me off the administrative side of scouting and while I do think that it's a good program for boys, I dropped out on the leadership side of things.

  9. Good for you. I agree that it's still got benefits, but really, who needs another highly structured, bureaucratized, regimented, politicized time sink for both parent and child? School already takes up too much. Meriwether Lewis only had a year of formal education and NO formal backwoods training, but he picked it all up by just being in the outdoors and learning the old fashioned way. He worked out ok.

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