OTHER ATHLETIC GAMES.





In addition to the games of lacrosse, platter or dice, straws and

chunkee, there were other games, some of an athletic nature, some

purely of chance, which observers have described, some of which are

mentioned only in limited areas, while others, like the games above

mentioned, were played by Indians scattered over a wide territory and

apparently having but little in common. Some of these games were but

modified forms of those which have been already described. Such, for

instance, is a game of ball which is described by Lafitau [Footnote:

Lafitau, Vol. II, p. 353.]and by Charlevoix. [Footnote: Charlevoix,

Vol. III, p. 319.] This closely resembled lacrosse in its general

methods of play, but as no rackets were used, it was less dangerous and

less exciting. Goals were erected at each end of the field, separated

by five hundred paces according to Lafitau. The players were divided

into sides. The ball was tossed into the air in the centre of the

field. When it came down the players of each side strove to catch it.

He who was successful ran in the direction of the goal which he wished

to reach. The players of the opposite side pursued him and did what

they could to prevent him from accomplishing his object. When it was

evident that the runner could gain no more ground, he would pass the

ball, if possible, to some player upon the same side and his success in

accomplishing this was dependent largely upon his skill. The game is

probably not so old as lacrosse, for the ball is described as being

larger and softer than the one used in lacrosse, thus indicating that

it belonged to the period when the stuffed deer-skin ball was used in

that game.



Both Dumont and Le Page du Pratz describe this game with this

difference, [Footnote: Dumont, Vol. I, p. 201, LePage, Vol. I, p. 378.]

that the ball, according to their descriptions, was incessantly tossed

in the air. Romans says that this game was played among the women; and

Lafitau, who describes it separately, adds that in this form it was

only played by girls. He also says that the Abenakis indulged in a

similar game, using an inflated bladder for a ball; and that the

Florida Indians fixed a willow cage upon a pole in such a way that it

could revolve and tried to hit it with a ball so as to make it turn

several times. [Footnote: Lafitau. Vol. II, p. 158.]



Joutel in his historical journal describes a curious game as follows:

"Taking a short stick, very smooth and greased that it may be the

harder to hold it fast, one of the elders throws it as far as he can.

The young men run after it, snatch it from each other, and at last, he

who remains possessed of it has the first lot." [Footnote: French's

Historical Collections of Louisiana, Vol. I, p. 188; Sanford's History

of the United States before the Revolution, p. clxxxii.]



Football is found at the north. Ogilby [Footnote: Ogilby, Book II,

Chap. II, p. 156. See also Smith's Narrative, p. 77.] says: "Their

goals are a mile long placed on the sands, which are as even as a

board; their ball is no bigger than a hand ball, which sometimes they

mount in the air with their naked feet, sometimes it is swayed by the

multitude, sometimes also it is two days before they get a goal, then

they mark the ground they win, and begin there the next day. Before

they come to this sport they paint themselves, even as when they go to

war." At the south it was "likewise a favorite manly diversion with

them." [Footnote: Bartram, p. 509.]



Certain forms of ball-play which were neither lacrosse nor chunkee, but

which resembled these games were found in different localities. Such for

instance is the game which Catlin [Footnote: Vol. II, p. 146.] saw

played by the Sioux women. Two balls were connected with a string a foot

and a half long. Each woman was armed with a stick. They were divided

into equal sides. Goals were erected and the play was in some respects

like lacrosse. Stakes were wagered on the game. This game is

also-described by Domenech, [Footnote: Vol. II, p. 196.] who says the

women wore a special costume which left the limbs free and that the game

was "unbecoming and indecent." Powers [Footnote: Contribution to North

American Ethnology, Vol. III, p. 383.] found a game among the Nishinams,

on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, not far from Sacramento,

which in some respects also resembled lacrosse. He says "The '_Ti'-kel_'

is the only really robust and athletic game they use, and is played by a

large company of men and boys. The piece [Footnote: The equivalent in

the game, of the ball in lacrosse.] is made of raw-hide or nowadays of

strong cloth, and is shaped like a small dumb-bell. It is laid in the

centre of a wide, level space of ground, in a furrow, hollowed out a few

inches in depth. Two parallel lines are drawn equidistant from it, a few

paces apart, and along these lines the opposing parties, equal in

strength, range themselves. Each player is equipped with a slight,

strong staff, from four to six feet long. The two champions of the party

take their stations on opposite sides of the piece, which is thrown into

the air, caught on the staff of one of the others, and hurled by him in

the direction of his antagonist's goal. With this send-off there ensues

a wild chase and a hustle, pell-mell, higgledy-piggledy, each party

striving to bowl the piece over the other's goal. These goals are

several hundred yards apart.



In an article in the Overland Monthly, [Footnote: Vol. II, p. 433. See

also Smith's Narrative, p. 77.] A. W. Chase describes a game in vogue

among the Oregon Indians which he says was identical with hockey, as

follows: "Sides being chosen, each endeavors to drive a hard ball of

pine wood around a stake and in different directions; stripped to the

buff, they display great activity and strength, whacking away at each

other's shins, if they are in the way, with a refreshing disregard of

bruises. The squaws assist in the performance by beating drums and

keeping up a monotonous chant." In the first of the two games of "spear

and ring," described by Domenech, [Footnote: Vol. II, pp. 197-8.] the

players are divided into sides. The stone ring, about three inches in

diameter, is fixed upright on the chosen ground, and players two at a

time, one from each side, endeavor to throw their spears through the

ring. The spears are marked along their length with little shields or

bits of leather, and the count is affected by the number of these that

pass through the ring. He also mentions a game [Footnote: He does not

give his authority for this game. He has evidently copied in his book

from other writers, but seldom indicates whether his descriptions are

based upon personal observation or quoted.] among the Natchez in which

the ring was a "huge stone" and the spear a "stick of the shape of a

bat."



If we classify Domenech's first game of "spear and ring" among those

which resemble chunkee, rather than as a form of chunkee itself, we

shall probably be compelled to pursue the same course with Morgan's

game of "javelin" to which we have already alluded. [Footnote: League

of the Iroquois, p. 300.] In this game the players divided into sides.

Each player had an agreed number of javelins. The ring, which was

either a hoop or made solid like a wheel by winding with splints, was

about eight inches in diameter. The players on one side were arranged

in a line and the hoop was rolled before them. They hurled their

javelins. The count of the game was kept by a forfeiture of javelins.

Such as hit the mark were safe, but the javelins which did not hit were

passed to the players of the other side who then had an opportunity to

throw them at the hoop from the same spot. If these players were

successful the javelins were forfeited and laid out of the play. If,

however, they in turn failed the javelins were returned to their

original owners. The hoop was then rolled by the other side and the

process continued until one of the sides had forfeited all their

javelins.





ORCHESTRA. OTHER GAMES OF CHANCE. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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