HIDING THE DISKS





INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--This game, known under a variety of names, is a

favorite among the Indian tribes living on the North Pacific Coast. The

disks, always of an uneven number, are made of wood and ornamented with

designs composed of segments of circles with groupings of dots. Some of the

markings are regarded as cabalistic, and there are men who claim to have a

knowledge of spells that will bring luck to the disks they ornament and

treat; such disks are considered valuable and often command a high price.

All of the disks in a set that is used in this game are ornamented alike

except one; this must be different from the others. It may be decorated

with red, for the sun, or with a dark color almost black, for the night.

This disk is frequently called the "chief," and the aim of the game is to

guess in which pile of disks the "chief" is hidden.



_Properties_.--A mat on which the game is played; a small mat on which the

counting or tally-sticks are put; a board that is to serve as a drum; four

drum-sticks; nine wooden disks about two and a half inches in diameter. The

designs on the nine disks, the twenty tally-sticks and the four drum-sticks

should be in color or burned into the wood. Eight of the disks should be

decorated alike; the ninth must be different and have either red or brown

as the predominating color; this disk is the "chief." A bundle of excelsior

is to be the substitute for the fiber of cedar bark which is used by the

Indians of the Northwest Coast when playing this game; if excelsior is not

available, dry leaves or some other dry material might be substituted,

within which, or under which, the disks could be hidden. All the articles

used in this game except the mats should be made in camp.



_Directions_.--An uneven number of players is required for this game. The

mat is laid east and west; at a little distance back to the northwest the

small mat is placed and on it are put the twenty tally-sticks. In a line

with the small mats to the northeast is laid the board around which the

four singers and drummers sit. The bundle of excelsior, or whatever

material is used in its place, together with the nine disks, is put at the

western end of the mat; before these is the place for the player who is to

hide the disks. On the northern and southern side of the mat sit the

players who are to guess where the "chief" is hidden, three or four on a

side. The messenger stands at the eastern end of the mat facing the player

who is to hide the disks. Lots should be drawn to determine who of the six

or eight players are to sit on the northern side and who on the southern

side. The player who is to do the hiding of the disks can be either

selected or drawn by lot. Whoever takes this part in the game should be

capable of considerable dramatic action. Among the Indians the person who

does the hiding of the disks personifies one who practices magic; he makes

passes over the disks and the cedar fiber under which the disks are hidden,

makes signs and movements, and does what he can to throw a spell of

confusion over those who are to guess where the "chief" is hidden.



When the players about the mat, the singers about the board drum and the

messenger standing at the eastern end of the mat are all in readiness, the

singers begin the following song, keeping time by beating with their

drum-sticks on the board drum; the players about the mat join in the

singing.



HIDING THE DISKS



[Music]



The player at the western end of the mat opens the bundle of excelsior or

other material and spreads it on the mat and then puts all the nine disks

under the material, making many movements as he does so, all of which must

be in rhythm with the song, rolling the disks about under the material and

finally dividing them into two parts, well covered up by the material. He

continues to make passes with his hands as though invoking mysterious

forces and to shuffle around the two piles of material in which the disks

are hidden. Suddenly a player points to one of the piles; the player at the

end ceases to shuffle and sends the disks concealed in the pile rolling

down the mat to the messenger standing at the other end, who looks to see

if the "chief" is among the disks rolled toward him. If he finds it, all of

the players on the side of the guesser give the victory shout and the

messenger goes to the small mat, brings one of the tally-sticks and stands

it before the successful guesser. Then the messenger rolls the disks back

to the other end of the mat where the person sits who hides the disks. That

player begins again his passes and movements as he mixes together the nine

disks and hides them under the material; then he divides the disks and the

material under which they are hidden into two piles, shuffles them about

until a player points to a pile, when he at once stops shuffling and sends

the disks under the pile pointed at rolling down the mat to the messenger.

If the "chief" is not found among the disks, the side to which the

unsuccessful guesser belongs loses a point, and the messenger takes from

the small mat a tally-stick and stands it at the end of the row of players

on the opposite side. The disks are then sent spinning over the mat to the

player who hides them. He mixes up the disks, hides them, shuffles the

piles until another guess is made. If that guess should be by a player on

the side that had just lost a point, and the guess prove to be

successful--that is, the pile pointed at contain the "chief"--then the

messenger takes the tally-stick that had been put at the end of the row of

the opposite side and stands it in front of the successful guesser. He

could not take back a tally-stick that had been won by a guess unless all

the tally-sticks had been taken from the small mat. One side or the other

must win twenty points to be victor in the game. In the process of winning

the game the tally-sticks may therefore be taken back and forth before one

side wins the entire twenty.



The victory shout is given only when a successful guess is made. The

singing stops at a victory shout and is resumed as soon as the disks are

rolled back to the player who hides the disks. He must be careful to keep

all his dramatic actions and movements of hands, arms, body and head in

rhythmic accord with the song. The steps and movements of the messenger

must also be in time with the song.





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