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The English word tomahawk is a corrupted form of the various eastern Algonquian words for "he uses for cutting"; in Delaware (Lenape) it is tamahaken, in Abenaki it is tmakwa, in Natick it is tummehtam. It follows that these people used something for cutting long before metal axes were introduced by European traders.

The first tomahawks were stone axes of a kind used all around the world in the Neolithic (New Stone Age) period. Late Archaic and Ceramic Woodland axes of North America had a stone head about 7 or 8 inches long attached to a wooden handle about 15 to 28 inches long; the head was either chipped or ground to give a sharp cutting edge.

Metal axes were one of the earliest trade goods brought by Europeans and the natives gave these tools the same name as the early stone versions. These axes changed over time, reflecting the fashion for such tools in different parts of Europe. Native tribes were quick to use them also as weapons.

17th and 18th century trade axes were extremely simply made by bending hot strap iron around a rod, welding it together and inserting a piece of steel for the cutting edge. Grinding and polishing completed the tool.

In the 19th century, much more elaborate and complicated axes were being traded to the Plains and Plateau tribes. Some were a combination of pipe and tomahawk; others were similar to the heads of "spontoons" used by junior NCOs in the French army of the 18th century. Pipe tomahawks were made with hollow handles and a screw-in pipe bowl (usually of brass), meaning that they would soon break if used for cutting wood or in battle - these were much more a status symbol rather than a real tool or weapon.

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Q: Can you show me a picture of a tomahawk that Native Americans used?
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