Indian Games
By Andrew McFarland Davis

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Public Domain Books

Contests of Skill.

Lewis and Clarke [Footnote: Vol. II, p. 140.] describe a game among the Oregon Indians which can neither be called an athletic game nor a game of chance, but which seems to have been a simple contest of skill. “Two pins are placed on the floor, about the distance of a foot from each other, and a small hole made behind them. The players then go about ten feet from the hole, into which they try to roll a small piece, resembling the men used at 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 chequer rolls outside the pins.”

Morgan [Footnote: League of the Iroquois, p. 303.] describes a winter contest of skill among the Iroquois, which he calls snow-snake. The so-called snakes were made of hickory. They were from five to seven feet in length, a quarter of an inch in thickness, tapering from an inch in width at the head to about half an inch at the tail. The head was round, turned up slightly and weighted with lead. This implement was shot along the snow crust, by hand, with great speed, and a point in the game was gained by the snake which ran the greatest distance. When there were a number of players divided into sides, if there were two, three or more snakes of the same side which were in advance of the snakes of the other side, all such counted. Such contests usually took place between tribes and aroused a great degree of spirit and the usual amount of betting. In simpler form, Sagard Theodat describes this kind of amusement.


Lacrosse.  •  Platter or Dice.  •  Straw or Indian Cards.  •  Chunkee or Hoop and Pole.  •  Other Athletic Games.  •  Other Games of Chance.  •  Contests of Skill.  •  Other Amusements of Women and Children.