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Tomahawks - Primitive but effective weapon used by Native American Indians when defending themselves from other Indian tribes and white settlers on a number of TV western series.


During an April 29, 1965 installment of the late night show THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON, singer Ed Ames who played Mingo, an Indian friend of frontiersman Daniel Boone (Fess Parker) on the western adventure DANIEL BOONE/NBC/1964-70 demonstrated throwing the tomahawk (actually a hatchet) during the show.

An errant tomahawk hits its mark

Following Johnny Carson's attempt at hitting the line-drawing shaped like a cowboy, Ed Ames threw his tomahawk. His throw hit the target directly in the crotch area. This triggered a wave of sustained laughter.  Johnny Carson seeing the misplaced throw commented, "I didn't even know you were Jewish" and followed that quip with "Welcome to Frontier Bris!"

Johnny Carson and Ed Ames - THE TONIGHT SHOW
Johnny Carson savors the moment with Ed Ames

One of TVs most amazing scenes featuring a tomahawk like hatchet occurred on the western adventure KUNG FU/ABC/1972-75 on episode No. 23 "The Tong" (11-29-73).

While protecting a small boy from the underworld clutches of a slave master, Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) is attacked from behind by a henchman who tosses a hatchet at Shaolin priests back. Miraculously, Caine effortlessly spins around and catches the hatchet in mid air. The seemingly mystical act sends a sense of awe down the spine of the perpetrator and to the viewing audience as well.

TRIVIA NOTE: In the fall of 1991 during the World Series playoffs between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins, the tomahawk became a topic of controversy. Representatives of Native American Indians complained that the "Tomahawk Chop," a ritual wherein the fans of the Atlanta Braves chopped the air with replicas of tomahawks (or their hands) as they cheered on their hometown baseball team, was a mockery of the Indian customs and race.

A comment appearing in the 11/1/91 issue of Entertainment Weekly read: "Some people are sure touchy about being cheated out of their land, their culture and their dignity." Addendum: The Atlanta Braves lost the series.

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