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Hand Games At P.A. Winter Games

Deanna Wuttunee

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1981      v11 n06 p16  

Black Lake team
The Black Lake team who took home gold

Wollaston team
The Wollaston team who took home the silver

Fond du Lac team
The Fond du Lac team who took home the bronze

Indian hand games are one of the few games that can evoke pure pleasure in today's competitive world. So it was at the Prince Albert Winter Games 1981.

The drums and singing stirred deep emotions from reluctant hearts, even in the sterile surroundings of the Prince Albert Communiplex. Body movements carried you along the tide of life ... fluid, rythmic and joyous. Utter pleasure and goodwill prevailed among the participants. Echoes of history ricotcheted from the participants to the crowd. The crowd swelled within the confined area where the games were taking place. The harsh light from the television cameras added a slightly macabre touch to the scene.

It was so that the games between Black Lake, Wollaston and Fond du Lac swept you along. The three communities are located approximately 50 miles east of Uranium City in Northern Saskatchewan.

Black Lake captured the gold medal, Wollaston went home with the silver and Fond du Lac took the bronze. The winners were determined by a round robin elimination process rather than through the point system. Only the three teams were entered in this event.

This kicked off some mixed feelings as to whether the hand games should be included in the district scores as all the teams were from the Prince Albert district. Points scored would have determined the winning district.

The Winter Games Committee decided in consultation with the Prince Albert district chiefs not to include these points with the district scores, according to the chairman, Angus McLean. The reasoning behind this being that hand games are not an amateur sport, he added.

Regardless of the decision, these players displayed great enthusiasm for their games and provided one of the highlights of the whole event of the Winter Games. Their enthusiasm was matched only by the enthusiasm of the youngest athletes.

The hand games are a traditional guessing game of Indian people and requires skill and matching of wits. The objective of the game is to successfully hide an object from your opponent using a series of moves to distract or fool him.

Event co-ordinator was Phil Morin of the Prince Albert FSI and referee was Modest Bigeye of Black Lake.