American Indian Games

figure_1_302x313As far back as 750 A.D.,when the Choctaw people living in the central Mississippi valley began to make chunkey stones and create depictions of people playing chunkey,Native americans have played various forms of games both on ground and ice.(1)

Other games included stickball,snowsnake,shinny,double ball,ring and pin,etc.

Skating was another form of sport which was used as a way to travel,chase dear,or for leisure.

10841018_3_l10841018_1_l-1 Early Native American Indian Carved Bone Ice Skate. The carved bone ice skate dates back to 1500-1700 years ago.(2)

Stick ball was another game which was played by the Americas as far back as 1100 A.D. When the French arrived in the 1600’s they witnessed these matches and renamed it lacrosse (meaning “the stick”).(3)

rn-27f23Decked out in their finery, the leaders of the Late Mississippian Period town of Toqua are assembled in front of the civic buildings on the summit of Mound A. On the plaza before them a single-pole stick ball game is in progress.Painting by Greg Harlin depicting a village scene circa A.D. 1450.(4)

In Virginia beginning in the 17th century as described by William Sratchey The Wyandots  were  using a crooked stick to strike a ball. Called Ball playing.(5)

The winter game of Snow Snake.(Ojibwa, Crows, Dakotas [Oglala, Tenton & Yankton], Hidatsa, Sauk & Foxes, Pawnee, Cheyenne, and Cree)snow-snake-1 Snowsnake-1 The “snow-snake” is a long slender, polished wooded stick that ranges from 3-9 feet in length.  It is an ancient game modified from the atlatl.  The head of the snow-snake is tipped with lead and shaped like a bird or snake head.  The goal is to out distance your competitors with your throw of the stick.  There is a notch at the tip which the forefinger is placed and the throw is made under-hand.(6)

Games of chance.


Games of chance can be divided into two types, those involving guessing and those using a type of dice that are thrown to obtain a random score.

Guessing games consisted of either hiding an object or guessing numbers. Games of chance use dice displaying a variety of decorations and made from materials such as bone, walnut shells, peach and plum stones, grains of corn, shell, and pottery disks. Score was usually kept with sticks or twigs.Men and women participated in guessing games and games of chance, however not together.(6) Shinny. shinny_game_1952 Shinny was another game played by women in which they would use a bent tree branch as a stick and a ball to knock between posts or over goal lines.

Played in America prior to european contact.(7)

This game was often played on ice with bone skates in the Dakotas during the 1700’s.(8)

These are just some accounts of American Indian Games.

(1) A Choctaw sport older than stickball?! – School of Choctaw

(2)     123: Ancient – Native American Indian Bone Ice Skate : Lot

                    Andrew McFarland Davis – 1887

(6) Native American Games – University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

(8)  Hockey’s History, Part 1: The Beginnings (1875 to 1909

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Ancient Native American Hockey Games


The Kiowa Indians living in the Black Hills of South Dakota

were playing a precursor game to hockey

around the 1740’s and maybe before that.

” Before 1750, the Kiowa lived in the Black Hills region, in present-day South


lacrosse-1“A form of lacrosse was played on ice during the winter months. Two teams of

players used sticks with nets on one end to move a ball toward the goal.”(1)

” There were other games, too. The children slid on the ice, or skated on it with skates

made of buffalo rib bones, in the winter.”(2)

(1).       The Kiowa – Page 19

Victoria Sherrow, ‎Dick Smolinski – 1997 –

(2).Saynday’s People: The Kiowa Indians and the Stories They Told Lee Marriott – 1963 –hockey05

The Lakota Sioux are also known to have played shinny on ice with bone skates as early as the 1700’s and before european contact (1743 in south dakota).Played in Dakota somewhere on a lake along village river ways.

Ice Hockey Roots Deep in American Indian Culture by James …

Did  you know that the Iroquois native american tribe was reported to play one of the earliest hockey games in 1740?
Probably played on bone skates on the St.Lawrence river in between Canada and the US.

An early form of hockey was first documented in 1740 when French explorers sailing up the St. Lawrence River observed Iroquois Indians hitting a hard ball with sticks and, as legend has it, punctuating their action with shouts of

“Hogee” (it hurts!).(1)

French explorers in 1740 described a group of Iroquois playing a game with sticks and a ball on a frozen pond.(2)

Early Canadian records state that the Iroquois Indians chased deer across the

ice on bone skates.(3)

Early explorers of North America were amazed to see members of the Iroquois nation gliding across frozen lakes and rivers on blades fashioned of bone.This suggests that they had been skating for quite a while, as do the many ancient

bone-and-shoe combination that have been unearthed by archaeologists.(4)

In Canada early French explorers copied the Iroquois Indians in the use of bone skates for hunting deer during the winter.(5)


(1) Labor Relations in Professional Sports – Page 202

Robert C. Berry, ‎William B. Gould, ‎Paul D. Staudohar – 1986

(2) Reading Tutor, Grades 4 – 8: Sports – Page 17

Cindy Barden – 2009

(3) The Best of the Best in Figure Skating – Page 1983

Rachel Rutledge – 1998

(4) The fine art of ice skating: an illustrated history and … – Page 57

Julia Whedon – 1988

(5) Figure skating – Page 7

Elizabeth Van Steenwyk – 1976

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Early Kingston Skating Rinks



I’ve put together a chronology and history of skating rinks in Kingston.

Although most of their early rinks were built for curling only.(1850-1890)(1)

In 1862 G.A Kirkpatrick built a large wooden building situated on King

and Emily streets called “the King street skating rink” used by the skating club of

Kingston as a rink.(2)

It was converted to a machine shop by 1870.(3)

In 1890 the Richardson Rink was built on the Queen’s University campus and

lasted until 1922 when it was burned down.(4)

The Jock Harty Arena replacing it that same year.

It too was lost in a fire.

Which lead to the second Jock Harty Arena in 1924.(5)

Eventually that was demolished also in 1968.

The third Jock Harty Arena was built in 1970 and torn down in 2007.(5)

Since late 2007 the Queens team plays at the old Memorial Centre opened in


(1) The Ottawa Journal on

(2) Archives Search – Library and Archives Canada…lang…

(3) Daily News (Kingston, ON), 12 Dec 1870: Maritime History of the …

(4)Hockey drills of a different sort | Queen’s University News Centre

(5) Queen’s Encyclopedia – Jock Harty Arena – Queen’s University › Home › J

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Boston Hockey Roots

normal“Boston Evening Gazette” Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., Saturday, November 5, 1859.   A visiting journalist from New England wrote a piece about Winter Sports in Nova Scotia telling of the marvellous skaters and describing the new game played on ice called Ricket, Hurley or Hockey. The editor of the paper added a note saying that he had sent to Nova Scotia for a set of hurley sticks so that the game could be tried in the Boston area. He pointed out that Nova Scotians were then referring to the sticks by the name of “hockey”. Actually, the game at that time was referred to by interchangeable names, Hurley and Hockey, and a stick used to play the game was likewise called a “Hurley” or a “Hockey”.

News Accounts | Birthplace of Hockey

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Canadian Stick Ball

1749: British military diary explains fusion of shinny and Mikmaq hockey.In the book Halifax: Warden of the North, one of the finest books ever written on Canadian history, the author Thomas H. Raddall, citing a British military diary from 1749, credits the Mi’kmaqs with an early influence on the Canadian game of hockey. He writes:


It is a fact little known in Canada, but a fact none the less, that ice hockey, Canada’s national game, began on the Dartmouth Lakes in the eighteenth century. Here the garrison officers found the Indians playing a primitive form of hurley on ice, adopted and adapted it, and later put the game on skates. When they were transferred to military posts along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes they took the game with them and for some time afterwards continued to send to the Dartmouth Indians for the necessary sticks.

notable dates in black canadian history – George and Darril Fosty’s …

Saint John: A Sporting Tradition 1785-1985

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Stick Ball On Ice


1979-4_EASTMAN_600Various ‘stickball’ games have been played by Native Americans throughout the continent prior to Europeans arrival . This goes for Southern, Central American and Northern American region. The nature of rules, and equipment varied according to where –and of course- the climate. If you are interested in ice hockey, the Mic Macs are recorded as playing what we would call a pond hockey using bone as their runners, sticks for balance as well as their hitting stick.  Since bone doesn’t perform like metal the balance sticks let them glide more. The blade could have been buffalo or any other large animal such as elk. I know anecdotally from Lakota people that they also did bone skates and played  stick games in winter along river ways. On dry land the ‘hockey’ or ball game was called ‘shinny’ and was played by women and men. In fact many museum collection’s, including ours, have shinny sticks from Southwestern, Plains and Eastern peoples.


indians lacrosse

The information and resources about this topc, Charles Eastman and Sara Wakefield, I have generally date to the 1800s. Both were witnesses to this game as played by the Dakota. Eastman as a Dakota native played it. Walker also discussed the game in his books about the Lakota. He lived with the tribes and interviewed tribal members, who stated that the game was a long-standing tradition. However, he lived with the reservation tribes in the 1900s. As far as I know, none of the earliest reports of the tribes, Jesuit priests (circa 1500s), ever reported the game, but their interaction with the Siouan peoples was limited and many of their accounts are second hand coming from enemy tribes.

This does not eliminate the Sioux as among the earliest players of the game; neither does it confirm that they were one of the first to play the game in the Americas. Now Lacrosse or some variant thereof was documented by early settlers in the East among the Siouan speakers of the coast and I believe some reports indicate that the game could be played on ice.

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Early Hockey Facts

Did you know that”just before British soldiers fled New York City in 1783 at the end of the revolutionary war,they reportedly played a game of Irish Hurling on skates,and that a version of hockey was played in Stoney Brook (today’s Princeton ),New Jersey in the winter of 1786″.



Now You Know Big Book of Sports – Page 11

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