Bone Tools
from the
Arkansas River
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Unmodified bison scapula.
Notice projecting "wing" of bone.
Scapula hoe on display at the
Nobel Museum in Norman, OK.
Scapula hoes from the Arkansas River.
Bison scapula hoes are a
classic Plains Village artifact.
They were used to plant and
weed crops in light sandy soil.
The Indians who used these
were part time buffalo
hunters, and part time
farmers. This artifact shows
the perfect complimentary
blending of those two
occupations. Hoes were made
of smaller, usually female
buffalo shoulder blades. The
raised spine on the back was
split off, and the tool was
attached to a handle.
Recycling was a way of life for
all aboriginal peoples of North
Fresh break on green bone
The artifacts above are called beamers. They were
used to scrape wet hides. The hide was placed fur side
down over a log, and the beamer was used with two
hands, like a draw knife. They are usually made of a
deer leg bone, but can be made of any long bone. The
top three are deer, the bottom is a young buffalo.
These interesting tools are called fore-leg
choppers. They are usually made from the knee
joint of a female buffalo, but can be made of other
bones. They were used to cut the tendons holding
the meat to the skeleton. Indian butchers stripped
the carcass, like filleting a fish.
These are awls, used to punch holes in
heavy leather. They are similar to the
choppers above, but are smaller and
terminate in a point. They are usually
pretty roughly made.
The rib below was creased by a dart
point as it passed between the ribs of
this bison. The cut just fits a medium
sized Pelican Lake, but could have been
made by any type of dart. The nick is
too large for an arrow point. A lot of
information can be learned from bones,
but you have to look close and pay
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The tool above is a shaft wrench. The
are used to hold a arrow shaft straight
after being heated in a fire. Straight
arrows are essential for bow hunters.