Native Americans used two types of stone axes: regular axes and hand axes. Both types were made through a process known as flint knapping. Stone axes remained in wide use among Native Americans until European colonization made more durable iron and steel axe heads widely available.
Most Native American stone axes were similar in form and function to the axes and hatchets used today. They were simply pieces of stone that were sharp on one end and dull on the other. The stone was fixed onto a piece of wood using plant fibers or animal sinews. These types of axes were used in hunting, combat, agriculture and building construction.
Hand axes are some of the oldest tools ever used by humans. They resemble a regular stone axe but lack a handle. As the name suggests, hand axes were used exclusively as hand tools and weapons.
All Native American stone axes were products of flint knapping, a process in which a skilled artisan slowly removes chips from a larger piece of flint or chert using a large rock called a hammerstone. Flint, chert and obsidian were preferred by Native Americans because these rocks shatter easily and in long pieces, making sharp edges possible.