Source: Indian Games
Category: Hazard Games
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--The objects which are thrown or tossed in games of
hazard Dr. Culin for convenience has designated as "dice" and he calls the
games "dice games." (Ibid., pp. 44, 45.) He found these games among one
hundred and thirty tribes belonging to thirty different linguistic stocks.
Throughout this wide distribution the "dice" are not only of different
forms but are made from a variety of materials: split-cane; wooden or bone
staves or blocks; pottery; beaver or muskrat teeth; walnut shells;
persimmon, peach or plum stones. All the "dice" of whatever kind have the
two sides different in color, in marking, or in both. Those of the smaller
type are tossed in a basket or bowl. Those that are like long sticks,
similar to arrow shafts, from which they are primarily derived, were thrown
by hand. Myths of the Pueblo tribes speak of the game, in which "dice"
shaped like a shaft were used, as being played by the War Gods. The
split-cane "dice" were "sacrificed" on the altar sacred to the Gods of War.
In this connection it is interesting to find evidence that the "dice game"
of hazard was associated with the thought of war among tribes very
different, both in language and customs, from the Pueblo Indians. Among the
tribes living on the prairies the word used to indicate a "point" made in a
"dice game" is derived from the same root as the word used to indicate an
honor won on the field of battle.
Two examples of the class of games called "dice games" are here given: the
first a Pueblo game played almost exclusively by men; the second a game
found among the Omaha and kindred tribes and almost exclusively played by
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