bikahtagenigan

These archaeological specimens show evidence of having been used in the same fashion as crooked knives, chisels or small gouges. Sections A and B show modified beaver teeth from the Carson Site, Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick, 1000 BP. Section C shows beaver mandibles from the Sand Point Site, St. Croix River.
Image courtesy of David Sanger, The Carson Site and the Late Ceramic Period in Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick,Canadian Museum of Civilization, Mercury Series, Archaeological Survey of Canada, Paper no. 135, 1987.

Indigenous to the Northeast, the bikahtagenigan, or the crooked knife, was an essential tool and the ability to make one, a necessary life-skill. The earliest crooked knives were made from a beaver incisor left imbedded in a portion of the mandible or a beaver or porcupine incisor hafted into a handle. After European contact, Native Peoples had access to a variety of metal blade forms that could be modified to make crooked knives. Some companies, such as the Hudson Bay Company, stocked blades for crooked knives. By the 1700s, Maine Indians made crooked knives with metal blades. Handles for these knives were either left plain or ornamented with elaborate carvings or incised decorations produced by chip-carving or etching.

Crooked knives were integral to making birchbark canoes and canoe paddles and poles. They were also used in the production of brown ash splint basketry, in the shaping of snowshoe frames, and in carving root clubs.