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Figure two is a photograph of a 3.4 inch long metal trade point from the nineteenth century that I found on private land in the high plains of the Rockies. For the Plains Indians, metal arrow points were a definite upgrade from the stone arrow points they had used for over one thousand years. These metal trade arrow points flew true and were much more durable than their brittle stone equivalents. Plus, many people swore that arrow wounds from these metal arrow points were often worse than gunshot wounds. The reasoning for this opinion came down to the difficulty of removing metal arrow points from the body, coupled with the inherent infections that went along with this kind of wound at the time.
When an arrow point (stone or metal) enters a victim’s body at high velocity, the first thing that happens is that bodily fluids bath the sinew, causing the sinew to swell and stretch. Sinew comes from the tendons (backstrap) of deer or bison and Plains Indians used it to fasten the arrow point to the wooden arrow shaft. The panicked victim wants the arrow point out, so he or she instinctively often pulls on the wooden shaft, many times ripping the sinew and leaving the arrow point in the wound. After that, it does not take long for the muscles of the body to naturally contract around the arrow point, trapping the piece of metal and making it even more difficult to remove.
Some of the worst arrow wounds came from the metal arrow points that Indians obtained in historical times. When the metal arrow point struck something hard in the body of the victim, such as bone, the metal often bent like an accordion making extraction of the arrow point difficult and quite painful.
There are numerous accounts of extracting these arrow points from victims in a book called Lightning Stick by H. Henrietta Stockel. I suggest you have your stomach in good order if you read some of these arrow wound accounts in her book. The wounds were nasty and the medical treatment was quite primitive compared to our standards. Some of the wounded victims died from the medical treatment and not the arrow itself.
|Figure Three. Three metal arrowpoints made and used |
in the nineteenth century. John Branney Collection.
When fighting Indians, the Spaniards and Mexicans often wrapped their torsos with thick blankets to slow down or stop arrow points while warriors from some tribes safeguarded their abdomens by wrapping their torsos with thick armor made from animal hides.
In my book WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR I had my share of arrow wounds, musket wounds, and knife wounds. Read WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR for the rest of the story. CLICK ABOVE OR BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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