Bow Drill, Fire Sticks (Book Four, Card 8)

The ability to kindle a fire was critical to Native American survival. Fire was viewed as a tool by Native American cultures. They utilized it to not just cook their meals and keep warm, but also to clear ground for farming and hunting, manage pests, and even communicate via smoke signals. The various fire-starting tools used by various tribes demonstrate the range and significance of fire to Native Americans.

Fire Drill:

The fire drill was a common Native American fire-starting instrument in the Southwest. A fire drill was made up of two parts: a wooden pole and a piece of wood with a hole carved into it. The wooden stick was twisted quickly in the hole, and after a while, the friction heated the stick and produced a spark, which landed on a cluster of dried grass or crushed bark and started the fire.

Bow and Drill: Another set of Native American fire-starting equipment, similar to the fire drill, was the bow and drill. A wooden bow with a thong attached to a stick makes up the bow and drill. As with a fire drill, the stick is fastened to a fire-starting board with a hole in the bottom. The bow functions like a saw, pushing and twisting the stick against the fire-starting board until enough friction is created to start a fire.