Four Sticks

Paiute Indians playing four stick game. Southern Utah
Games of the North American Indians


In "Games of the North American Indians" the author mentions that Four Stick was confined to a very limited number of tribes; Reference, The Klamath, Madoc (Lutuamian), the Achomawi (Shastan), the Paiute (Shoshonean), the Washo (Washoan), and possibly the Chinook. This, he states, is unlike almost all other Indian games.

Paiute Four Stick Game, Utah,
United States National Museum

In "Wonderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America", Page 196, London, 1859. Also, the Canadian Journal, page 276, Toronto, June, 1855, Paul Kane writes (reference Clackama, Willamette river, Oregon.):
"Two were seated together on skins, and immediately opposite to them sat two others, several trinkets and ornaments being placed between them for which they played. The game consists in one of them having his hands covered with a small round mat resting on the ground. He has four small sticks in his hands which he disposes under the mat in certain positions, requiring the opposite party to guess how he has placed them. If he guesses right, the mat is handed roundto the next, and a stick is stuck up as a counter in his favor. If wrong, a stick is stuck up on the opposite side as a mark against him. This, like almost all the Indian games, was accompanied with singing; but in this case the singing was particularly sweet and wild, possessing a harmony I never heard before or since amongst Indians.

In book of AMerican Indian Games it gives the different patterns. For instance, in the following "o" signifies a small stick and "O" signifies a large stick.
OooO oOOo oOoO OoOo ooOO and OOoo

The book mentions that often if a player guessed correctly he was allowed to guess again until he guessed incorrectly.

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