Native American Traditional Games

Native American Traditional Games

(yelling) The reasoning behind 'Run and Scream' is building up your vocal chords, building up your inner stamina (yelling) You know, for the kids to be running and screaming at the same time is sort of like almost getting them ready for song.

Really, you are only supposed to take one breath You know, you run as far as you can screaming at the top of your lungs.

And once you are out of breath and you are done screaming, then you stop right there and then that's where you mark your spot.

And then the next person in line does the same thing.

You know one breath, screams as loud as they could, then once they are out of their breath, they stop.

and it's just a basic contest to see who goes the furthest and screams the loudest I guess you could say.

You know if you just want to do the game quickly, you could find a branch or break off some branches, whatever is available for you that day or in that area or circumstances, I guess you could say.

One of the concepts for that game is just to let your inner negativity and your stress, and everything that's balled up inside of you, just let it go.

It's a stress reliever, you know.

You could yell at the top of your lungs and nobody is going to tell you you know, "hey, be quiet.

" Maybe the kid is frustrated about their friends or something like that.

You know, they run along, and screaming, and it makes them feel good.

When I make sticks, I cut them roughly about, about probably I would say 6, about 5 to 6 inches.

You know using Savis berries, using chokecherries, willows.

I really like working with willows because willows have a really great scent, right? I cut a stick about maybe 6 inches.

I make one end sharp so it can stab in the ground.

And then I put them roughly about 4 to 6 feet apart.

Right behind each other, four sticks.

Then the participant stands roughly about maybe 6 to 8 feet back.

So you use a ball and you stand and the further you hit, furthest stick you hit, the more points you get.

So the closest stick to you, the less points you get.

Now this ball can roll up to the stick, or it can just one bounce, however it may be.

As long as you make that stick jump.

I always put some pony beads, you know, at the end, or some type of beads, or something that will show that that stick jumped.

You know what I mean? When I teach throwing games, I always make sure I point.

Just like a baseball player, you know, just like a pitcher.

He always points to his target.

You step with your opposite foot and then you throw.

You know I'm left handed, so I always point with my right side.

I step with my right foot, and then I throw.

So I can have a follow through, right? And you always come back to the farthest you can.

You know, you don't just throw it just like this.

No, you always give it your best, right? Come all the way back, point, and then throw.

Slingball is a racing game, so you use a ball with a tail and you place the tail between your feet facing away from the direction you want to go.

And then you roll backwards and throw your feet above your head.

And release the tail of the ball launching it behind you.

And you repeat that process until you've completed the race.

So the balls that we use here at International Traditional Games Society are just hacky sacks that we have emptied and refilled with sand inside of a balloon.

And then sewed a tail onto.

The tails that we used are braided yard, about 8 inches long.

Kids can find it difficult to get the tail of the ball firmly between their feet as they go backwards.

And a lot of times, they'll think they threw it really far, but they'll find that it's just on the ground at their feet And just the initial rolling over, a lot of times they'll get really excited about it and go all the way over, and it's kind of suprising to them, but it's always fun to watch When I play Hoop and Arrow, again, I always space children out.

If I have more than twelve kids, I double them up.

I try to keep my groups as small as possible.

You know if you have 20 kids, you partner them up, one kid behind each other and they just switch every time, you know? And when I usually teach kids to line up in the straight line, I tell them, okay, so when you line up, you put your hands out.

And if your hands are touching, you're too close, you move over.

You know, so it spreads the kids out, so it gives one kid enough room to throw his arrow.

Then you would balance that arrow, cause you always gotta find the middle of that arrow.

You balance it, then you would hold it.

When you throw it, you want it to fly straight, right? So you would always balance it on your hand, so you would hold it like a pencil.

And when I play Hoop and Arrow, I always tell kids, get as low as you can, and even if you want to get one one knee, you put the opposite knee up, so it will give you better accuracy.

You can throw a side arm if that's a lot better, or you can throw just straight over your shoulder, you know.

And when you stand out, one person stands at the end and he rolls that hoop right to the end.

Originally, this was one of the targets that the Salish people use And what they do is they could throw it and where the students fire into these different holes and obviously this is the bullseye, so there is different pointing and different ways.

In the Blackfoot 'Hoop and Arrow' game, it's about this size.

And so the children would chase the little hoop.

So instead of having rows of people shooting from either side as the hoop flies down the middle of them, They would have individual, where they would each have their own little hoop and then firing with a longer arrow.

So we always have to play these games to actually build our skills, right? Build our skills so we can go out hunting, we can feed all our people, you know, We can protect our land, we can protect our animals, everything like that.

(talking) The children and the students play the game one on one, and they look for this little rock.

In the game, the students play for three sticks So they would start off, and they would hide.

Some people get really elaborate, and they hide under hats or scarfs and then come out and hide.

And then point me.

It's either this hand, there's a 50-50 chance.

If you pointed me this way, you would have missed me (cheering).

And I would have got stick And then if you pointed me this way, you would have guessed me, and I would have had to give my rock to you.

So every time that they don't get guessed, they get away, they would earn a stick until they win all three of them.

You're observing, you're paying attention to patterns, you're reading the person's body language.

But at the same time, you listen to your intuition and you learn to trust that if it's telling you that it's in certain area, certain place.

In these games, our children learn how to get along with each other.

They learn how to read people and develop their communication skills.

So it could either take a few minutes, or up to, some of these games takes hours and even days.

On the smooth dirt, or sand, at the edge of the river, the kids would dig a hole in the sand in one place.

And then about 20 feet down the river, another hole.

And the idea of the 'Stonehouse Game' is that three river stones that are flat and about as big as the palm of their hands, would be place in there and that was their house, their tepee, their home.

And the idea was to take them to their new home safely, one rock at a time, very carefully.

So the okatokes, or rocks, were transported to their new home one at a time.

They had to be laid down gently.

Transported gently, laid down gently, and be in exactly the same place as they started.

And this was a reflection, we understood, of how the Plains people cared for their possessions as they took them from one place to the next.

And home was not a home, until everything was in its right place.

And it was always transported respectfully and it was always put into its proper place.

So when you walked in, it was a complete home.

It was so challenging the kids and the adults couldn't read the stones that well, and if a stone is fairly round, they couldn't tell it was exactly the same position in the house.

So we added pictographs from the region, and sometimes the winter count so they were learning other things.

But it helped them visually place those stones in the right place.

And so what we're gonna do is one person in your team of three is going to tell a story with the stones.

And they're going to place them in a particular way, and it might be helpful if you think about the directions: north, east, south, and west And the most important thing is that we don't want to hear clicking of the rocks, banging of the rocks, everything is sacred.

And then another person is going to be the observer of the story, and the placement of the rocks, and the third person is the judge.

They're watching the story be told and they're watching the placement of the rocks, so it's really good observational skills Once the person has told their story and has placed their rocks, then the person that's watching is going to move the tepee over here, and move each rock and place it exactly where it was placed and once all the rocks are placed you are going to retell the story, and the judge is going to be watching to make sure it was done correctly.

The European variation is called Cat's Cradle, I think.

We made a drum, you can make a tepee.

So anytime you would work with these games, you would always tell stories to them, right.

Because Blackfoot people always told stories to whatever they were taught.

When we painted, our paintings always had stories When we sang, there's stories in our songs, right.

It helps them to be creative, so they can bring out their creativity side.

So you tie up two people together and they have to try to get out without untying anything.

It's pretty fun to watch.

(laughing) It was a capturing game, you know when you captured the enemy, you would tie them up.

And if they can get out, well they can go back to their people.

But if they can't get out, if they need help, they would just slowly be integrated into the tribe.

And they will be adopted into the tribe.

That's how you build up your tribe.

When I do the string games, I always, um, emphasize teamwork, I always emphasize communication.

I always emphasize brainstorming, you know so kids can always practice those ways, right.

They always have to work together to solve problems, and the string game or the capturing game, that's what it's all about, you know.

If two kids were bad, well the parents would put them together and they would tie them up.

You know and if they can get out of it, they can get out of it.

But it helps those children bond, it helps them build a friendship, build teamwork, eh.

(talking and laughing) Girl: same way that I had it before? (talking) (laughing and cheering) We did it.

(cheering, yelling, and laughing) You have a center pole and that is the goal for both teams.

And it's divided into three sections.

The bottom section is worth 1 point, the middle section 2 points, and the top section 3 points.

There's a ring around the pole about 10 feet out, and only the youngest children are allowed inside the ring.

And they're able to use any means they can to score, to hit the bottom of that pole, or to throw it to the top.

The second division of team is the older children, and they have to stay outside of that red circle.

But other than that, they can use any means necessary to score.

Um, the third division is the women, and they have to stay outside of that third circle as well They can't be rough with the lower divisions, um, they can get in their way, and that's all.

Otherwise, they can use any means necessary to score.

And the fourth division is the men, who can only get in the way of the lower divisions.

They can't push or be rough with them at all And in fact, they have to use the traditional lacrosse sticks to catch and throw the ball, um, whereas the other divisions can use their hands.

The only thing we can do as men is stand our ground.

(laughing) That's about it.

If one of the women comes up and yanks our stick out of our hand, or one of the kids does, or maybe they get a little rough, you know.

(background voice laughing) they grab your arm, they grab your arm (more laughing) You really just kind of have to have that humility and accept it because humility is one of our values, one of our teachings.

If the men use anything but the sticks, then their points won't count.

And a lot of times this results, this game results in the youngest division winning.

Because they can get in that inner circle.

And uh, the cool part is that the longer you play it, the more you can see those children developing strategy.

And the quicker and easier they win So there will be four people playing from each group.

(cheering and laughing) So a lot of times these games would be used to solve conflict, uh, to avoid any type of violence, direct violence.

Um, and that would happen in the case of any kind of territorial dispute, over homeland, or any kind of grievance that one tribe maybe felt against another.

As though, maybe they were injured by another tribe, or a band.

And so these games would be employed to resolve that conflict.

And sometimes whole tribes would play against eachother and you would have a field that's three miles long with a 100 people on each team.

And the winner of the game won the decision of the conflict.

(cheering and yelling) Run with it.

Take it down.

Doubleball was played with a whole group of kids, you know.

It can be played with two tribes.

The whole concept of Doubleball is to work as a team, you know, it's a team game, it's similar to lacrosse.

It's similar to field hockey.

But it's only played with a stick and a doubleball, a ball that's basically sewed together.

There's different ways that people make the doubleball.

Some people will just cut off two pieces of wood, while they're cutting their doubleball stick.

And they'll just cut two pieces of wood and then join them with a leather or with a sinew.

When you start, you would all stand in the middle and you would make a tepee with your stick.

The ref would throw it in the air and you would catch it, you know.

When we're scoring, if you go under, it's one point.

The best score is if you can ring the stick like that.

And then number two is if you go over the top, like that.

But it has to be within those two parameters right there.

So you can't come from behind and expect this to score.

(laughing, cheering, and yelling) Wanji, núnpa, yámni! Go! Go! Go! Get in there! Get in there! (laughing and cheering) Watch those shins! Watch those shins! So in this game when we play, when we first start out, there's multiple different ways you can do this depending on the tribe and the region.

But this is the most common one that we use, we'll set the ball there.

and they're going to hit the stick and usually we count, we'll have them count in their language.

Wanji, núnpa, yámni.

(sticks smacking and cheering) So with these sticks, what we don't want is for people to high swing.

So just usually a general rule is that they stay below their waist.

Most of our games, we don't have out of bounds unless it's a situation where there's a road, or something that it might be a safety concern.

Otherwise, the ball is still in play even if it goes past the goals or out of the way of the field.

If you score from the back in most of our games, that's a point for the other team.

To my knowledge from what we've studied with this game is that it is where hockey originated from.

There are people that will try to say that hockey originated from Europe, but we have all kinds of historical accounts of this game being played throughout North America.

And there are accounts of Lakota boys playing on the ice back in the 1700s.

I mean, you're going to see different variations of it, from the regions of where you go.

The materials in which you use, so this is a cedar shaft that you use from a cedar sappling that would be on the, you know, the western side of the Rocky Mountains.

A lot of the Salish people, that's what they use.

Over on this side, chokecherry would be common.

With the juniper and the chokecherry, the root system naturally curves.

So all you do is dig this up, cut it to the length you want, and clean it up, and you have yourself a stick.

And then just like a lot of our other games, it was used for conflict resolution, um community gatherings.

There's many different purposes of why they would play these games.

(talking and cheering) No stepping on that ball! Watch those shins! Watch those shins! (Iaughing) No score! No score! Score.

(cheering).

Source: Youtube