Tlingit Weapons

The Tlingit Tribe The Tlingit tribe has typically occupied the south east coast of Alaska and continues to do so. Russian and Western explorers of the 18th century came upon a people who were eager to trade but were very terrifying in their warlike and aggressive reputation. Inter-tribal attacked to acquire booty and slaves were continuous and ceremonial wars were regularly waged to gain territory and to resolve feuds. The Tlingit and Haida warriors measured their significance and wealth according to the number of slaves they acquired and maintained.

The Tlingit Tribe and their Warlike Reputation The influx of the colonial powers provided a new opponent and the Tlingit chose to resist the incursions of Russian fur traders with meticulous and aggressive intensity as they used the various Tlingit weapons that were available to them. They resisted with such intensity that they even overran and destroyed a Russian fort in 1802.



Tribes like the Haida and the Tsimshian dwell in the coastal region to south of the Tlingit and are culturally alike. The Haida used large, ocean-going caneoes for hunting whales along the coast and farther out at sea. They are just as war-like as their Tlingit neighbors. Their slave raids caused them to progress as far south as California. Similar to many native peoples of the Pacific Northwest, these tribes divided their time between semi-permanent winter and summer settlements. They lived in greatly adorned cedar long houses that were watched over by magnificently carved totem poles.

Tlingit Weapons The weapons ranged from the ubiquitous bow and spear to a broad assortment of clubs and maces. The influx of western traders brought in firearms which were soon added to their list of various Tlingit weapons. Body armor was frequently made of elk, caribou or moose hide, afterward enhanced by numerous Chinese coins sown onto the hide for simple bullet proofing. More elaborate armored outfits were prepared out of cedar wooden slats, hinged and firmly fixed with leather and wood toggles. The helmets that they wore are perchance the most renowned characteristic of these warriors. Their helmets were made of timber and often enclosed the entire head. They were also carved and brilliantly painted to signify mythical beasts, whales, and bizarre human heads which were adorned with real hair and teeth.

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