Jackstraws




Cullin mentions in his book that there are only two imitations of this game. Reference, One by the Haida and one by the Eskimo. The Haida game is exactly like ours while the Eskimo version is similar. Allan and Paulette Macfarlan mention the second game as Reference, Northwest Coast, Plains, and Woodland.


Jackstraws, Eskimo, Alaska
United States National Museum.

In "The Eskimo about Bering Strait. Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology", part 1, page 332, 1899, a Mr E W Nelson describes the following game (Reference, Eskimo, Western, Alaska):
A bundle of from 50 to 75 small squared wooden splints about 4 inches long and a little larger than a match are placed in a small pile crosswise on the back of the players outstretched right hand. The player then removes his hand quickly and tries to grasp the falling sticks between his thumb and fingers, still keeping the palm downward. If one or more of the sticks fall to the ground it is a miss and the next player tries. Every time a player succeeds in catching all of the falling sticks, he lays aside one of them as a counter until all are gone, when each player counts up, and the one holding the greatest number is the winner.

We at Faire Tyme Toys produce a game similar to this one. Click Here to see it.
We were told of this game by the people in the large museum site "Saint Marie among the Hurons", but we have not seen documentation of the exact game ourselves. These people are very dedicated in research.

In the exact same quotation mentioned above, Mr Nelson continues as follows:
The bunch of slender splints already described are also used to play a game exactly like jackstraws. The player grasps the bunch of sticks between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, resting one end upon the floor; then he suddenly releases them and they fall in a small heap. The players have a small wooden hook, and each in succession removes as many of the sticks as he can without moving any but the one taken. Each player keeps those he succeeds in removing, and the one holding the largest number at the end is the winner. Both men and women play this game, but usually not together.

Culin mentions the use of a small hook to remove the sticks while "The book of American Indian Games" mentions that a hook was NOT used. This is probably a tribal difference or time difference.

Back to Native Toys and Games