The Center's Traditional Native Games exhibit includes more than two dozen traditional Lakota games crafted by Lakota artist Mike Marshall, of Rosebud, South Dakota.
The exhibit incorporates reproductions of a ledger book drawing by Amos Bad Heart Bull and watercolor by Oscar Howe. The exhibit is presented in partnership with Creighton University's Native American Studies Program.
Games played by the Lakota before the introduction of non-Native games in the late 19th century continue to be important to the Lakota people. Hundreds of games documented by Lakota and non-Lakota scholars were played by people of all ages.
"Unlike today's high-tech games, none of the Lakota games were meant to be played alone," says Ray Bucko, S.J., the Center's cultural outreach adviser. "The games brought people together, stimulated social interaction and strengthened social bonds. They also taught skill, patience, cooperation, measured competition and endurance – virtues important to being a good Lakota." Fr. Bucko is director of Creighton's Native American Studies program and chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Dept.
The exhibit comprises games the Lakota classified by gender and age. Games for boys include the bull roarer, tateka yuhmunpi; cactus buffalo, unkcela pte; a pop gun, ipahotonpi; a top, canwacikiyapi: two whirling bone game pieces, hohuyuhmunpi; and a slingshot, inyan onyeyapi. Games for girls and women include the plum pit game, cunwiyawa; and the game of bowls, icaslohe econpi. Both girls and boys enjoyed hohukazunta, a sled made of buffalo ribs. Elk rawhide is used to bind the ribs.
(Continued on next page)
Unkcela pte (Cactus Buffalo)
A game for boys. One boy holds the cactus target on a stick high over his head. Other boys shoot at the target with toy bows and arrows. When an arrow hits the target, the cactus is transformed into an angry buffalo that chases after the shooter. The shooter tries to evade a thorny hit by the raging target and a lively chase is on.
(Game piece crafted and photographed by Mike Marshall, Rosebud, S.D.)