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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bow Staves Harvested from Juniper Trees by Indians of Nevada

  • Author(s): Wilke, Philip J
  • et al.

Investigation of numerous scarred juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) trees in western Nevada, from which it is concluded Indians took wood for the manufacture of archery bows, necessitated a review of the literature on Great Basin bows and the materials from which they were made. The goal was to better understand the significance of these trees and the relationship of the industry represented by them to the manufacture of bows in the area as a whole. Use of horn, antler, and bone for bow stave material is discussed elsewhere (Wilke 1988). In this paper, I discuss the use of various woods for bow staves in the Great Basin and adjacent regions. I then discuss the harvesting of wood for bow staves from still living Juniper trees in western Nevada, and offer ideas about the exchange of wooden bow staves or completed bows from this region to other regions. Finally, I speculate on the relationships between bowyers and the trees from which they took their bow staves, and assess stave harvesting and tree regrowth as these phenomena relate to the concept of aboriginal resource management.

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