Stick Games

*****Most of the games below can be played safely. However, although the first would be a fantastic game safety probably prevents it's being played today. Five green stars mark those games that are probably easiest to use but others are usable as well.

In "Historical Journal of Monsieur La Salle's Last Voyage to Discover the River Mississippi. French's Historical Collections of Louisiana", volume 1, page 186, New York, 1846, Joutel Says (Reference, Illinois, Illinois):
"A good number of presents still remaining, they divide themselves into several lots, and play at a game, called of the stick, to give them to the winner. That game is played, taking a stout stick, very smooth and greased, that it may be harder to hold it fast. One of the elders throws the stick 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. The stick is then thrown again; he who keeps it then has the second lot, and so on to the end. The women whose husbands have been slain in war often perform the same ceremony and treat the singers and dancers whom they have before invited."


In "History of the Expedition under the Command of Lewis and Clark", volume 2, page 784, New York, 1893, Lewis and Clark describe the following game (Reference, Clatsop, Oregon.): "Two pins are placed on the floor, about the distance of a foot from each other, and a small hole is made between them. The players then go about 10 feet from the hole, into which they try to roll a small piece resembling the men used in draughts; if they succeed in putting it into the hole, they win the stake; if the piece rolls between the pins, but does not go into the hole, nothing is won or lost; but the wager is wholly lost if the checker rolls outside the pins.


In "Eskimo of Baffin Land and Husdon Bay. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History", volume 15, page 110, New York, 1901, a Doctor Boas says (Reference, Eskimo, West Coast Hudson Bay.):
*****"Women gamble with a musk-ox dipper, which is turned swiftly around. The person away from whom the handle points wins the stake, and has to place a stake in her turn."


In "Games of the North American Indians", a Dr C F Newcombe describes the following two games (Reference, Haida, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska):
Game 1.
*****"A set of 40 or 50 sticks, representing ten different numbers are placed in a row. The players alternately try to repeat from memory, blindfolded, the order in which these ten numbers run.

Stick Dropping Game
Sticks 83/4 inches,
Ring 2 1/2 inches
Kwakiuti Indians,
British Columbia.

Game 2
"Twenty or forty small sticks, 6 inches long, are taken in the palm, thrown up into the air, and caught on back of hand. They are then thrown up again, if any are caught, and if possible an odd number caught in the palm. If an odd number - one, three five, or seven,- be so caught, one stick is kept for the player, who tries again. If none or an even number be caught, the opposite player takes his turn. He who takes the last stick wins all his opponent's sticks and takes them all up and goes on as before. Boys or girls play. The game is called hal hal jao, "Turn around game."

Game 3, (Reference, Kwakiuti, British Columbia):
"The sticks are laid in two parallel rows of twenty each, and one player tries to pick up as many sticks as possible and make two other similar rows while the other player stops his breath by holding his nose and mouth. It is played by men and boys, by two or more players in turns. The counters are common menasu."

Game4, Drop Stick. (Reference, as above):
*****In the diagram a hoop is fastened to a stick that is stuck in the ground...
"The Players drop the sticks held in one hand through the ring, to see who can get the highest number through. This is done with the eyes open, blindfolded, after turning round." In Book of American Indian Games It describes the stick as a small 1/2 inch stick about 24 inches high with a 2 1/2 inch ring at the top made of whale bone. The sticks are described as 24 plain straight 1/4 inch sticks about 8 3/4 inches long. Players drop the sticks through the ring one at a time from shoulder height. It is mentioned that some players get so good at it they need further challenge, so they are blindfolded and indeed many still get most through. So, they are then twirled in circles to make them dizzy first.

The above item can be ordered from Faire Tyme Toys. Please see "Our Catalogue".

The game of Sticks or Whirl and Catch

In Book of American Indian Games by Allan and Paulette Macfarlan
Reference, Plains, Woodland, Northwest Coast
The sticks from four to twelve are placed on the back of the hand with the hand held a little above waist level and are then tossed straight up into the air at least a little higher than the top of the head of the player who tosses them. The falling sticks are then caught on the open palm of the hand wich tossed them upward. The fingers and hand must be kept flat or the catch doesn't score. Another version has the sticks caught on the back of the hand.

The game of Rebound

In Book of American Indian Games by Allan and Paulette Macfarlan
Reference, Northwest Coast
Player will throw a 12 inch by 1/2 inch stick very hard against a stake. If the stick hits correctly, it will bounce back toward the player. Often times they can catch it on the rebound. A 35 to 40 inch dart was sometimes substituted for the stick.

Coup Stick

In Book of American Indian Games by Allan and Paulette Macfarlan
Reference, Plains
Coup stick is about 4 feet long by one inch diameter. See book for information on it's history and decorations.
Contestants of same size and weight face each other. Right hands grabbing stick right next to each other right at center. Left hands just outside of them. They try to pull the stick away from each other. This game takes great amounts of strength! Contestants may move one hand small distances on the stick. The moment they let go with both hands the other wins.
Another game with the Coup Stick involves each player holding the stick with right hand right at the end. A short stick about 14 inches long is placed on the ground three feet away from the ends of the stick. Each player tries to pull the stick and the other player along so he can grab that stick on the ground. So, it really becomes a sort of tug of war with one hand.


In book of American Indian Games by Allan and Paulette Macfarlan
Reference Woodland
Players stand about three paces away from the trunk of a tree with a hole in it and try to toss pine cones into the hole OVERhand. (Overhand is more difficult than underhand.) Cones entering the hole represent the woodpecker entering the nest in the tree trunk.

Turn Stick

In book of American Indian Games by Allan and Paulette Macfarlan
Reference Woodland, Northwest
Players find a very straight stick about 3 feet long and 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick. Generally a bright stripe is painted around one end to mark it. Player holds the stick in front of him and gently tosses it in the air and catches it after it turns 1/2 turn only. Each player in turn does this. Next the first boy tosses it to make it turn one full turn. Any time a player misses, he is out. Each player follows. Then, next time the player first did one and a half turns, then two, and then three in correct sequence. Others follow.

Slip Stick

In Book of American Indian Games by Allan and Paulette Macfarlan
Reference, NorthWest Coast
Involves use of a highly sanded 18 inch by 1 1/2 to 2 inches stick. It can have something like whale blubber or animal fat on it to make it slippery, or modern talcum powder may be used. Played in a circle 12 foot in diameter. Stick is thrown in the air calling "Go". Contestants can only use the right or left hand - which ever decided before the game. They try to catch the stick, and then try to hold on to it. Stick is never held above chest level. Player holding stick when game ends 60 to 100 seconds later is the winner.

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