NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art

Cast and Sheet Metal Pipes
Smoking Pipes

Mohegan Cast Pipe In 1610 the New England Native Americans had great tobacco pipes of red and yellow copper (Juet1967). Such an elbow pipe, from the Connecticut State Archaeological Collections, was formed and rolled from a single sheet of brass.

In 1634, Roger Williams (1973) remarked about the Narragansett: "They have an excellent Art to cast our pewter and Brasse into very neate and artificiall Pipes." A small cast brass pipe was found at an early historic Mohegan village, Fort Shantok and there is a similar cast pipe of larger dimensions from the Connecticut State Archaeological Collections.

Sheet Metal and Pottery Pipe "Though Hudson said he saw copper pipes in New York in 1609, none of these are known, nor are metallic pipes common. Those found on Indian sites were probably made by white men" (Beauchamp 1902). Due to the length of time New England Native Americans were already trading with non-natives, it is possible that Williams (1973) observed pipes cast by Europeans, or pipes which were not cast, but rather rolled into shape from sheet metal, or perhaps even pottery pipes with sheet metal stems.

Mohegan Sheet Metal Pipe From Fort Shantok, a 17th century Mohegan Village, comes a cone shaped piece of neatly rolled brass that appears to be a pipe stem. Beauchamp (1903) mentions that early historic travelers in New York observed "tobacco pipes steeled with copper." Brasser (1978a) depicts such a clay pipe with a sheet brass stem that was collected by near Winthrop, Massachusetts.

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