From ancient times, the Celts were using battle axes in the wars against their enemies. As the new world was populated by Europeans, the battle axes came with them. Though built for war, they became the primary tool for home building of log cabins.
The French, Dutch, and English traders provided iron tomahawks to the Native Americans as trade items. The Native Americans originally had a small, stone axe. By trading with the Europeans, they acquired axes, which were very heavy, weighing two to three pounds each. As time went by, the Europeans learned to make steel Tomahawks to use as trade items, which gradually became lighter and smaller. These were more suitable for hunting and for war parties. They were a cross between the stone axe and the battle axe. Tomahawks became one of the primary tools, as well as weapons, for Native Americans.
The word tomahawk is derived from Tomahak or Tamahaken from the language of the Algonquin Indians of Virginia. After the 1700s, the Native Americans used the battle tomahawk with great success. After seeing what the Native Americans did with the tomahawk in warfare, the traders, settlers and frontiersmen also adopted the tomahawk for close combat.
The history of tomahawks includes use by the American military. State militia soldiers serving during the Revolutionary War often carried a battle tomahawk instead of a sword. The Continental Congress of the United States in a resolution dated July 18, 1775, decreed that militiamen must provide themselves with a sword or tomahawk in addition to muskets and bayonets. The patriot militia of King’s Mountain carried Tomahawks instead of swords.
The tomahawk was used for the last time in combat inside the United States at the Battle of Little Bighorn between the Sioux and the 7th Calvary, on June 25, 1876. The Tomahawk saw combat again in the Vietnam War, where a shorter version called the LaGana Hawk saw action. After a long history of tomahawks, the axe proved itself again in battle after almost 100 years.