described by First Boy - James Larpenteur Long, Fort Peck
Assiniboine-Sioux, in The Assiniboine: From Accounts of
the Old Ones Told to First Boy (James Larpenteur Long),
edited by Michael Stephen Kennedy , University of Oklahoma
Press, 1961, p 93-96 (originally published as Land of
the Nakoda by the Montana Writer Program in 1942)
men played games more for the wager than for amuse-ment.
Several men would gather at a lodge to play one of their
favorite games. The wagers consisted of clothing, ornaments,
weapons, and even horses. Men sometimes lost everything
they had taken along for wagers and left with only their
clouts. Some of these games lasted for several days and
old game called the moccasin game was played by two teams.
Four moccasins were placed in a row side by side in front
of a player, who put a small object inside of one of the
moccasins. From the opposite team a representative came
for-ward with a short stick in his hand, and tried to
guess which moccasin contained the hidden object.
men amused themselves at target shooting with blunt arrows.
In one game a hoop, laced so that a square hole was formed
in the center, was used. This hoop was rolled, the hole
forming the target.
another game, a young man shot an arrow into a bank and
left it there as a target. The others in the group then
tried their skill in hitting it or putting another near
slide-stick game, still played by boys, was very interest-ing.
A group of boys went to the woods and each selected about
ten willow sticks cut in three- and four-foot lengths.
The bark was stripped off in long lengths and put back
on the sticks by wrapping, to form different patterns.
When all had wrapped their sticks a fire was kindled and
the sticks were passed back and forth through the flames.
When the flames had blackened the sticks completely, the
wrappings were removed and the pat-terns were then visible.
After a day or two, when the sticks were dry, the game
was played by throwing them from different positions.
start the slide-stick game, the small end of a stick was
held between the thumb and second finger with the top
of the index finger on the end of the stick. There was
a space of three inches between the index finger and the
second finger and thumb. Each boy threw one stick in a
certain direction, aiming at no particu-lar target, but
merely to get distance. When each one had thrown a stick,
the group walked forward and each player picked up his
stick. The owner of the stick that went the farthest won
the right to select a position at which he was most skilled
and, also, the right to the first play. If the player
won, he still had another chance, and led as long as he
won at each throw.
of the positions from which the sticks were thrown are
player extended his left foot in front, toes up and heel
firmly placed on the ground. He first touched the butt
end of the stick on the ground, then slid it across the
left instep with such force that it sprang upward and
glided into space. The same play was repeated using the
right instep, and then across the tops of both feet, placed
with toes crossed.
game required a great deal of balance to carry out the
different positions played. Each boy kept count of the
number of times that his sticks fell ahead of the others.
As they all had from six to ten sticks each, they chose
a stick from their bundle suitable for a certain position.
For example, a long stick would be the kind to use for
throwing across the instep, a short one for throwing down
on smooth hard ground and bouncing off into the air.
also played with mud sticks made from willows. They were
from eight to ten feet long and about one inch in diameter
at the butt end. The player carried a ball of mud in the
crook of his left arm. A small piece of it was rolled
into a ball with the palms and stuck on the tip of the
stick, which was held in the right hand and swung backward.
The arm was brought forward with a quick motion to make
the throw. The piece of mud was thrown at objects or over
the water for distance throwing. Some-times two groups
of boys made war on each other with the mud sticks for
w-capons. Young men sometimes even used mud sticks to
kill small feathered game.
were made from the tips of buffalo horns and were spun
on the ice. Thev were kept in motion by striking them
with quick blows from lashes tied to short sticks. The
lashes were applied to make the tops spin faster and faster
until they hummed. Then they were thrown with the stick
handles against a steep bank. The «-inner was t1e
one who threw his top the highest.
played a game with a large ball which they knocked about
with a crooked stick. The ball was first placed between
two groups of women of from six to ten players each. One
player from each side stood near the ball and, at a given
signal, both struck at it with their clubs. Each player
tried to knock it toward her side. The side that got the
ball took it on toward its goal line, which was about
fifty steps from center, with their opponents in hot pursuit.
When those carrying the ball were overtaken, there was
a lively, noisy skirmish from the striking of club against
the game started, players collected such articles as trinkets
or clothing, usually among themselves, and made up a wager
which was divided into two piles. The players on one side
had their collection in one pile, and the players on the
oppo-site team had theirs in another. At the end of each
game, the wagers were settled and new ones put up for
the next game. Sometimes the spectators put up the wagers.
indoor game played by women was the odd-stick game. Forty-one
small peeled sticks about twenty-four inches long were
used. There were two players. One, with hands behind her
back, divided the bundle into two bunches, one in each
hand. Then, crossing the two bunches of sticks in front
of her, she extended them to the other player, who took
her choice. Each player counted the sticks in her bunch
and the one who got the even number of sticks won. It
was not necessary for the winner to have the greatest
number of sticks.
usually made an entertainment of this game, which lasted
all evening, with a lunch always served. Men were not
allowed even to look in. When the game became very entertain-ing,
peals of laughter could be heard, much to the discomfiture
of the young men, who often waited patiently for their
sweet-hearts far into the night.