What Were the Weapons of the Nez Perce?

Nez Perce Indians used bows and arrows, war spears and leather shields as their weapons. Knives, tomahawks and war clubs were also used as weapons by the Native American tribes.

Bows and arrows were common weapons for the Nez Perce Indians, both for hunting and warfare. Bows could be long or short, and the arrows were almost always fletched to help them fly straighter. When used for hunting small game, such as birds, the arrows could be used without stone or bone arrowheads.

Spears were also used for hunting and war. Spears were meant to be thrown at the target. Many Native American Indians used a launching device to hurl the spear even farther than it could be thrown. These spear throwers are called atlatls, and they provided so much extra power that a spear launched in war could penetrate chain mail.

Leather shields were used to protect battling Indians from incoming war spear and arrow attacks. They were made from layers of rawhide stretched across a wooden frame, and were not used in hand-to-hand combat. The Nez Perce Indians used shields in their battles with Shoshone and Crow tribes.

Other weapons commonly used by the Nez Perce, as well as other Native American tribes, include knives, tomahawks and axes and war clubs. Copper knives were common in warfare, and iron and steel knives followed. Tomahawks were used as tools and weapons, and could be thrown or held in close battles. War clubs, a wooden or stone stick, were used only for war, not for hunting.