Native American Tales

How the People Got Arrowheads

#663 Dead and Gone by Charlaine HarrisHow the People Got Arrowheads


The people used to make their arrowheads out of pinewood because they didn’t know where to get obsidian, or even what it was. Ground Squirrel knew where Obsidian Man lived and set out to steal some obsidian. He gathered some roots and took them to Obsidian Man, who liked them very much, so much so that he told Ground Squirrel to go out and get some more.

While Ground Squirrel was out the second time, Bear came and demanded most of the roots. Squirrel could do nothing but oblige. Bear also took the time to insult Obsidian Man’s mother. Squirrel went back and told Obsidian Man all that had happened. Obsidian Man determined that both of them would go out the next day to get roots.

As expected, Bear showed back up. There was a fight. Each blow from Obsidian Man cut Bear sharply until he was dead and cut to pieces. Squirrel and Obsidian Man went back home to eat the roots.

The next morning, Obsidian Man was awoken by Squirrels groaning. Squirrel said he had been sat upon the day before and he was sick. Obsidian Man first thought that Squirrel was bluffing, so did not stray far as he gathered things outside, but went back to check on Squirrel, who seemed as sick as ever. Obsidian Man decided that Squirrel must really be sick.

Ground Squirrel had been bluffing the entire time. So when Obsidian Man left this time, Squirrel gathered up all the obsidian points and took off. Obsidian Man gave chase, but Squirrel crawled into a hole and began to kick dirt into the face of Obsidian Man. Squirrel was able to get away and give the obsidian points to the people who tied them on their arrows instead of the pine wood and they shot a great many deer.


It’s not impossible to kill something with a wood blade, although it is more difficult. I imagine the first person who discovered that arrowheads and knives could be made out of obsidian was mighty pleased.

Obsidian is a hard, but fairly easy to work with, naturally occurring glass, essentially. It’s found in areas that have had volcanic eruptions in the past.


This isn’t necessarily one of those scenarios where people deserve the right to the thing. It’s one of those scenarios where it would be nice for said people to have a right to said thing, but it’s not necessarily something required for them to live. Obsidian is not necessary for human life, but it’s a nice perk. It makes life a little easier, or it did, back in the day.

The morality of Ground Squirrel taking the obsidian points is a grey area. Sure it helped out the people a lot, but did they need it? Was Obsidian Man hoarding it away from people who needed it to live? He was called Obsidian Man, wasn’t the obsidian, by right, his?

One of the things to think about is that you may have something that is incredibly useful, or desirable, to other people and if it’s not something that is readily accessible to them, they might try to take it. Sure, iPhones are awesome, but if they’re not priced low enough, people are going to find ways to steal them. iPhones are not a need, they’re nice to have and they’re useful, but if the price isn’t low enough, there’s going to be a pretty big desire of theft there.

On the flip-side, crackers are nice and they’re useful and desirable, but how many people go around stealing crackers? It happens, but most of the time people are more apt to pay for crackers. I’m not saying that iPhones get stolen more than crackers, I’m saying the desire of theft is higher for iPhones because the price isn’t at a point that makes an iPhone easy to get.

Obsidian Man had some nice Obsidian and people wanted it. He was careful about who he let around him, because he knew that Obsidian was worth a lot, but he wasn’t careful enough.


Lock your obsidian up in a safe.

Weigh In

Do you think Ground Squirrel was morally right or morally wrong for stealing the obsidian?

Do you think Obsidian Man should have been more careful?


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