Native American Games

Many Native American games were used as teaching tools while others were for pure pleasure.

The University of Wisconsin has a first person account of Native American games available in audio and text format. They also have images and explanations of some of the popular games of various tribes. Games include lacrosse, double ball, and chunky.

The Southwestern Archaeology, Inc. website has a copy of an article first written in 1883 describing a game viewed by an ethnologist working for the Smithsonian Institution. The description is of a Zuni game.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University has a website and exhibit dedicated to American Indian Running Traditions. There are descriptions of races that were considered sport for several cultures as well as the spiritual and ceremonial significance of others.

The Native American games have a variation of several traditional games that have been adapted for modern people. Many of these have varying stages of difficulty and could be played by small children or adults depending on the modifications made.

Teacher Vision has a printable that describes a Native American ball game and has instructions for a modern day variation.

While the history of Native American gaming does include games of skill, it also includes games of chance. This is evident today in the casinos owned by various tribes. However, games of chance are an established tradition for many native cultures.

Learning about Native American games is a great way to explore one of the many fascinating Native American cultures. Knowing how a group of people spent free time can teach others about what that society valued, such as dexterity, speed, and hand eye coordination.

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