Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Abrading Implements of the Canadian Indian



[This text was originally published in 1907 by the Bureau of American Ethnology as part of its Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. It was later reproduced, in 1913, by the Geographic Board of Canada. The work done by the American Bureau was monumental, well informed and incorporated the most advanced scholarship available at the time. In many respects, the information is still useful today, although prudence should be exercised and the reader should consult some of the contemporary texts on the history and the anthropology of the North American Indians suggested in the bibliographic introduction to this section. The articles were not completely devoid of the paternalism and the prejudices prevalent at the time. While some of the terminology used would not pass the test of our "politically correct" era, most terms have been left unchanged by the editor. If a change in the original text has been effected it will be found between brackets [.] The original work contained long bibliographies that have not been reproduced for this web edition. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]



In shaping their numerous implements, utensils, and ornaments of stone, wood, bone, shell, and metal, the native tribes were largely dependent on abrad­ing implements, of which there are many varieties. Of first importance are grinding stones and whetstones of more or less gritty rock, while less effectual are potsherds and rasp-like surfaces, such as that of the skin of the dogfish. Of the same general class are all sawing, drilling, and scraping tools and devices, which are described under separate heads. The smoothing and polishing implements into which the grinding stones imperceptibly grade are also separately treated. The smaller grinding stones were held in the hand, and were usually unshaped fragments, the arrow­shaft rubber and the slender nephrite whet­stone of the [Inuit] being exceptions. The larger ones were slabs, boulders, or fragments, which rested on the ground or were held in the lap while in use. In many localities exposed surfaces of rock in place were utilized, and these as well as the movable varieties are often covered with the grooves produced by the grinding work. These markings range from narrow, shallow lines, produced by shaping pointed objects, to broad channels made in shaping large implements and utensils. Reference to the various forms of abrading imple­ments is made in numerous works and article, treating of the technology of the native tribes.

Return to the Index page of Indians of Canada and Quebec


Source: James WHITE, ed., Handbook of Indians of Canada , Published as an Appendix to the Tenth Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, Ottawa, 1913, 632p., p. 5.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College