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,dear chase,or for leisure.

10841018_3_lEarly Native American Indian Carved Bone Ice Skate. The carved bone ice skate dates back to 1500-1700 years ago.(2)

Stickball 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 Captain James Smith, 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. (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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