Gifts from the Thunder Beings


Gifts from the Thunder Beings

Indigenous Archery and European Firearms in the Northern Plains and Central Subarctic, 1670-1870

Roland Bohr

488 pages
57 illustrations, 2 maps, 1 table, index


May 2014


$80.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2014


$80.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2014


$80.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Gifts from the Thunder Beings examines North American Aboriginal peoples’ use of Indigenous and European distance weapons in big-game hunting and combat. Beyond the capabilities of European weapons, Aboriginal peoples’ ways of adapting and using this technology in combination with Indigenous weaponry contributed greatly to the impact these weapons had on Aboriginal cultures. This gradual transition took place from the beginning of the fur trade in the Hudson’s Bay Company trading territory to the treaty and reserve period that began in Canada in the 1870s.

Technological change and the effects of European contact were not uniform throughout North America, as Roland Bohr illustrates by comparing the northern Great Plains and the Central Subarctic—two adjacent but environmentally different regions of North America—and their respective Indigenous cultures. Beginning with a brief survey of the subarctic and Northern Plains environments and the most common subsistence strategies in these regions around the time of contact, Bohr provides the context for a detailed examination of social, spiritual, and cultural aspects of bows, arrows, quivers, and firearms. His detailed analysis of the shifting usage of bows and arrows and firearms in the northern Great Plains and the Central Subarctic makes Gifts from the Thunder Beings an important addition to the canon of North American ethnology.


Author Bio

Roland Bohr is an associate professor of history and the director of the Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies at the University of Winnipeg.


"Gifts from the Thunder Beings [is] an excellent place to start for anyone studying the relationship between native peoples and European firearms."—Daniel P. Barr, Journal of American History

"Crisply written. . . . It should be read and appreciated by all students of ethnohistory."—David Silverman, Ethnohistory

“Aboriginal weapons are an important subject in themselves and for their role within Native societies and Native-white relations. Roland Bohr’s knowledge of how Aboriginal weapons work and why they were constructed as they were allows the author to critique the ethnocentric and technologically ignorant assumptions of many earlier scholars. As a bowyer himself, Bohr brings knowledge of making and using bows and arrows lacking in earlier scholarship to his careful historical research.”—Dr. Laura Peers, curator of the Americas at the Pitt Rivers Museum and reader in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations, Maps, and Table
1. Bows, Guns, and Diverging Views on Indigenous and European Technology
2. Indigenous Subsistence Patterns of the Hudson Bay Lowlands and Northern Plains
3. Bows of the Northern Plains and Subarctic
4. Arrows and Arrow Makers
5. Aboriginal Peoples and Firearms
6. Injuries Caused by Arrows and Firearms
7. Archery and Firearms in Aboriginal Beliefs
8. Archery and Firearms in Hunting
9. Archery and Firearms in Combat in the Central Subarctic
10. Archery and Firearms in Combat in the Northern Plains
11. Survival and Adaptation of Aboriginal Archery and European Firearms
Appendix: Extended Image Credits
Glossary of Archery Terms

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