CHUNKEE OR HOOP AND POLE.





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

proportionally reduced.



[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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