CHUNKEE OR HOOP AND POLE.
Source: Indian Games
Among the Indians at the south, observers noted and described a game of
great antiquity, of which we have no record during historical times
among those of the north, unless we should classify the game of javelin
described by Morgan [Footnote: League of the Iroquois, p. 300.] as a
modified form of the same game. The general name by which this game was
known was chunkee. When Iberville arrived at the mouth of the
Mississippi he despatched a party to explore the river. The officer who
kept the "Journal de la fregate, le Marin" was one of that party and he
recorded the fact that the Bayagoulas and Mougoulachas passed the
greater part of their time in playing in this place with great sticks
which they throw after a little stone, which is nearly round and like a
bullet. [Footnote: Maigry, Deconvertes, etc., Vol. 4, p. 261.] Father
Gravier descended the river in 1700 and at the village of Houmas he saw
a "fine level square where from morning to night there are young men who
exercise themselves in running after a flat stone which they throw in
the air from one end of the square to the other, and which they try to
have fall on two cylinders that they roll where they think the stone
will fall." [Footnote: Shea's Early Voyages. Albany, 1861, p. 143.]
Adair gives the following description of the same game: "The warriors
have another favorite game, called _'chungke'_, which, with propriety of
language may be called 'Running hard labour.' They have near their state
house [Footnote: Consult E G Squire--Aboriginal Monuments of N.Y.
Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vol. II, pp. 1356 and note p.
136.] a square piece of ground well cleaned, and fine sand is carefully
strewed over it, when requisite, to promote a swifter motion to what
they throw along the surface. Only one or two on a side play at this
ancient game. They have a stone about two fingers broad at the edge and
two spans round; each party has a pole of about eight feet long, smooth,
and tapering at each end, the points flat. They set off abreast of each
other at six yards from the end of the playground; then one of them
hurls the stone on its edge, in as direct a line as he can, a
considerable distance toward the middle of the other end of the square.
When they have run a few yards, each darts his pole anointed with bears'
oil, with a proper force, as near as he can guess in proportion to the
motion of the stone, that the end may lie close to the stone. When this
is the case, the person counts two of the game, and, in proportion to
the nearness of the poles to the mark, one is counted, unless by
measuring, both are found to be at an equal distance from the stone. In
this manner, the players will keep running most part of the day, at half
speed, under the violent heat of the sun, staking their silver
ornaments, their nose-, finger-and ear-rings; their breast-, arm-and
wrist-plates, and even all their wearing apparel, except that which
barely covers their middle. All the American Indians are much addicted
to this game, which to us appears to be a task of stupid drudgery; it
seems, however, to be of early origin, when their forefathers used
diversions as simple as their manners. The hurling stones they use at
present were from time immemorial rubbed smooth on the rocks and with
prodigious labor; and they are kept with the strictest religious care,
from one generation to another, and are exempted from being buried with
the dead. They belong to the town where they are used, and are carefully
preserved." [Footnote: See also Historical Collection, Louisiana and
Florida. B. F. French (Vol. II.), second series, p. 74, New York, 1875.]
Lieut. Timberlake [Footnote: Memoirs of Lieut. Henry Timberlake, etc.,
London, 1765, p. 77.] describes the game as he saw it played among the
Cherokees where it was known by the name of "Netteeawaw." "Each player
has a pole about ten feet long, with several marks or divisions. One of
them bowls a round stone with one flat side, and the other convex, on
which the players all dart their poles after it, and the nearest counts
according to the vicinity of the bowl to the marks on his pole."
Romans saw it among the Choctaws. He says, "The manner of playing the
game is thus: they make an alley of about two hundred feet in length,
where a very smooth clayey ground is laid, which when dry is very hard:
they play two together having each a straight pole about fifteen feet
long; one holds a stone which is in the shape of a truck, which he
throws before him over this alley, and the instant of its departure,
they set off and run; in running they cast their poles after the stone;
he that did not throw it endeavors to hit it; the other strives to
strike the pole of his antagonist in its flight so as to prevent the
pole of his opponent hitting the stone. If the first should strike the
stone he counts one for it, and if the other by the dexterity of his
cast should prevent the pole of his opponent hitting the stone, he
counts one, but should both miss their aim the throw is renewed."
Le Page du Pratz [Footnote: Histoire de la Louisiane, Paris, 1738, Vol.
III, p. 2.] describes the game as practised among the Natchez. He calls
it "_Le Jeu de la Perche_ which would be better named _de la crosse_."
Dumont who was stationed at Natchez and also on the Yazoo, describes the
game and speaks of it as "La Crosse." [Footnote: Memoires Historiques
sur la Louisiane, Paris, 1753, Vol. I, p. 202.]
Adair is correct when he speaks of the antiquity of this game. When he
dwells upon the fact that these stones are handed down from generation
to generation, as the property of the village, he brings these tribes
close to the mound dwellers. Sanier, [Footnote: Ancient Monuments of the
Mississippi Valley, p. 223.] speaking of discoidal stones, found in the
mounds, says, "It is known that among the Indian tribes of the Ohio and
along the Gulf, such stones were in common use in certain favorite
games." Lucien Carr [Footnote: 10th Annual Report Peabody Museum, p. 93.
See also Schoolcraft's Indian tribes, Vol. I, p. 83.] describes and
pictures a chunkee stone from Ely Mound, Va. Lewis and Clarke [Footnote:
Lewis and Clarke's Expedition, Phila, 1814, Vol. I, p. 143.] describe
the game as played among the Mandans. This tribe had a wooden platform
prepared on the ground between two of their lodges. Along this platform
the stone ring was rolled and the sticks were slid along the floor in
pursuit of it. Catlin [Footnote: Vol. I, p. 132 _et seq._ Dorsey
describes two forms of the game in use among the Omahas: "shooting at
the rolling wheel" and "stick and ring" Third Annual Report. Bureau of
Ethnology, pp. 335-336. cf. Travels in the Interior of America, in the
years 1809, 1810 and 1811, by John Bradbury, p. 126.] describes the game
as played by the same tribe. They had a carefully prepared pavement of
clay on which they played. The "Tchunkee" sticks were marked with bits
of leather and the counts of the game were affected by the position of
the leather on or near which the ring lodged. The Mojaves are accustomed
to play a similar game which has been described under the name "Hoop and
Pole". [Footnote: Lieut. A. W. Whipple in Pac. R. R. Rep.. Vol. III, p.
114; Harper's Mag., Vol. XVII, p. 463; Domenech. Vol. II, p. 197; H. H.
Bancroft's Native Races, Vol. I, p. 393, p. 517 and note 133. The
Martial Experiences of the California Volunteers by Edward Carlsen,
Overland, Vol. VII, No. 41. 2nd Series, p. 494.] A similar game was
played by the Navajoes. [Footnote: Major E. A. Backus in Schoolcraft.
Vol. IV, p. 214.]
The Yumas played a game with two poles fifteen feet long and a ring a
few inches in diameter. [Footnote: W. H. Emory, U. S. and Mexican
Boundary Survey, Vol. I, p. 111.] Kane [Footnote: Kane's Wanderings, p.
310; H. H. Bancroft's Native Races, Vol. I, p. 280.] says that the
Chualpays at Fort Colville on the Columbia "have a game which they call
'_Alkollock_,' which requires considerable skill. A smooth, level piece
of ground is chosen, and a slight barrier of a couple of sticks placed
lengthwise is laid at each end of the chosen spot, being from forty to
fifty feet apart and only a few inches high. The two players, stripped
naked, are armed with a very slight spear, about three feet long, and
finely pointed with bone; one of them takes a ring made of bone or some
heavy wood and wound with cord. The ring is about three inches in
diameter, on the inner circumference of which are fastened six beads of
different colors, at equal distances, to each of which a separate value
is attached. The ring is then rolled along the ground to one of the
barriers and is followed at the distance of two or three yards by the
players, and as the ring strikes the barrier and is falling on its side,
the spears are thrown, so that the ring may fall on them. If any one of
the spears should be covered by the ring, the owner counts according to
the colored bead on it. But it generally happens from the dexterity of
the players that the ring covers both spears and each counts according
to the color of the beads above his spear. They then play towards the
other barrier, and so on until one party has obtained the number agreed
upon for the game."
In his "Life among the Apaches," [Footnote: Life among the Apaches by
John C. Cremony, p. 302.] Colonel Cremony describes the hoop and pole
game as played by the Apaches. With them the pole is marked with
divisions throughout its whole length and these divisions are stained
different colors. The object of the game is to make the hoop fall upon
the pole as near the butt as possible, graduated values being applied
to the different divisions of the pole. The women are not permitted to
approach within a hundred yards while the game is going on.
[Transcriber's Note: Lengthy footnote relocated to chapter end.] Those
who have described this game in the various forms in which it has been
presented dwell upon the fact that it taxed the strength, activity and
skill of the players. In this respect it rivalled lacrosse. In
geographical range the territory in which it was domesticated was
nearly the same.
There are many, doubtless, who would decline to recognize the discoidal
stones of the mounds as chunkee stones, but it can not be denied that
the "_netlecawaw_" of the Cherokees [Footnote: Timberlake p. 77.], the
"hoop and pole" of the Mojaves and Apaches [Footnote: Whipple, Pac. R.
R. Rep., Vol. III, p. 114. Cremony, p. 302, Harper's Mag. Vol. XVII, p.
463.], the second form of "spear and ring" described by Domenech,
[Footnote: Domenech, Vol. II, p. 197.] the "_alkollock_" of the
Chualpays [Footnote: Kane's Wanderings, p. 310.] and the chunkee of
Romans and Adair are the same game. The change from the discoidal stone
to the ring; the different materials of which the ring is made, whether
of stone, [Footnote: Lewis and Clarke, Vol. I, p. 143; Catlin, Vol. I,
p. 132.] of bone, [Footnote: Kane's Wanderings, p. 310.], of wood,
[Footnote: Cremony, p. 302.] or of cord; [Footnote: Whipple, Pac. R. R.
Rep., Vol. III, p. 114.] whether wound with cord [Footnote: Kane's
Wanderings, p. 310.] or plain; the different lengths of the spears
varying from three feet [Footnote: Ibid.] to ten feet [Footnote:
Timberlake, p. 77; Cremony, p. 302.] and even reaching fifteen feet in
length among the Mojaves; [Footnote: Whipple, Pac. R. R. Rep., Vol. III,
p. 114.] the different markings of the spear [Footnote: Cremony, p. 302;
Domenech, Vol. II, p. 197; Timberlake, p. 77.] and the ring; [Footnote:
Kane's Wanderings, p. 310.] the different ways of preparing the ground,
whether tamping with clay, [Footnote: Catlin, Vol., I, p. 132.] or
flooring with timber, [Footnote: Lewis and Clarke, Vol. I, p. 148.] or
simply removing the vegetation, [Footnote: Domenech, Vol. II, p.
197.]--all these minor differences are of little consequence. The
striking fact remains that this great number of tribes, so widely
separated, all played a game in which the principal requirements were,
that a small circular disk should be rolled rapidly along a prepared
surface and that prepared wooden implements, similar to spears, should
be launched at the disk while in motion or just at the time when it
stopped. Like lacrosse, it was made use of as an opportunity for
gambling, but owing to the restriction of the ground on which it could
be played, the number of players were limited, and to that extent the
interest in the contests and the excitement attendant upon them were
[Relocated Footnote: The Hawaiians were accustomed to hurl a piece of
hard lava along narrow trenches prepared for the purpose. The stone
which was called Maika closely resembled a chunkee stone. It is
described as being in the shape of a small wheel or roller, three
inches in diameter and an inch and a half thick, very smooth and highly
polished. This game appears to have been limited to a contest of skill
in rolling or hurling the stone itself. The additional interest which
was given by hurling the spears at it while in motion was wanting.
Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expedition by Charles Wilkes, London,
1815, Vol. IV, p. 35.]
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