Soon after European contact, Indigenous stone axes were replaced by trade tomahawks with metal heads made of iron or steel, and sometimes of brass, bronze or copper.
While used as a woodworking tool, the tomahawk was also a weapon of war. The handles were decorated with carvings and sometimes with feathers, fur, beads and ribbons, and heads were often elaborate, often incorporating a pipe bowl.
Many tomahawks saw no use in either the woods or war, but served only as symbols of status. Highly ornate and decorated pieces were presented to noted warriors by the French and British.