First Tennesseans
Bow and arrow 01 Woodland Hunter Bow and arrow 02 Bow and arrow

Bow and Arrow

The first bow and arrow wasn’t used in Tennessee until about 700 or 800 A.D. It was probably introduced to the Woodland Indians by other Indians from the west and north. 
Once it arrived here it soon spread throughout the region. Why do you think these early men developed the bow and arrow? Archaeologists still debate possible reasons. 
There are two theories. First, some archaeologists think that it was because an increase in population required the Indians to develop a better way to hunt food. In other words, more Indians were competing to hunt the animals in the region. Since food was harder to find, you needed a more efficient way of bringing the animal down and killing it. 
Another theory is that the Indians needed the bow and arrow as a weapon for war. This theory suggests that the Woodland Indians were developing into complex societies or tribes. The tribes with the bow and arrow could use it as a weapon in battle. 
If two groups met in a battle and one had the bow and arrow and the other did not, then the one with the bow and arrow would have a much greater advantage. For this reason, archaeologists believe the bow and arrow quickly spread among the Indians of the Tennessee River Valley.
The arrow shaft was probably made from river cane or hickory with two feathers at one end. At the other end a small, thin, triangular-shaped point was attached. 
Because the arrow was much smaller and lighter than a spear, the stones used on the arrow changed from a large spear point with a stem to a smaller one. The arrowhead was stuck in a small groove at the tip of the arrow. 

Picture Credits:
  • Painting entitled, “Woodland Hunter.” This painting was created by Carlyle Urello. It shows a man holding a bow and carrying several arrows that are attached to his waist. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 95.94.4
  • Painting showing a hunter with a bow and arrow. This painting shows the hunter carrying an axe. Illinois State Museum

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