A small number of American Indian tribes made use of the Poisoned Arrow in hunting and war, notably the Apache, Navajo, Paiute and the Diegueno Indians of California. But this was not a common practice. American Indians were very skilled with the bow and arrow which made any enhancement unnecessary.
The poisoned arrow would have been used on a special enemy or perhaps on a great bear like the Grizzly. In my research, I have found that the San bushman of the Kalahari desert used poison arrows daily. I believe they are the only native peoples in the world to use this technique consistently and as part of their way of life.
Making a Poisoned Arrow:
The poison used by the Apaches for their arrows was obtained from rattle snakes and extracts from various poisonous plants, deer gall bladder bile was another component used in poison arrow making. To obtain venom from a rattlesnake, the reptile was irritated until it repeatedly struck a piece spoiled meat or liver held on a stick, impregnating it with its toxin. The tips of arrows or blowgun darts were then dipped into the poisoned meat.
Making a Poisoned Arrow - Poison from Plants:
Extracts from poisonous plants were also used to make poison arrows. Different plants included extracts from yew bark or needles, dog bane, hemlock,Golden Poppy, Bloodroot and nightshade. The Apache applied a poison mix of deer gall, snake venom, and plant extracts to their arrow heads and allowed them to dry before use. The more applications the stronger the poison. Some Native Americans also used the juice from the roots of false hellebore and corn lily. This liquid would be applied to arrow tips before heading out on the war trail.
The Poisoned Arrow - Storing the Poison:
If additional poison was carried on the war trail it was stored in clay containers that were carried in the bottom of the warriors quiver. If more poison arrows were needed the poison could be added at the time the arrow would be used. Apache warriors were able to make one shot with an arrow every 3-4 seconds to an effective range of about 200 yards.