Part 2 out of 2
probable that some form of this game still persists among the scattered
descendants of those nearly extinct tribes, but it is not likely that at
the present day the victor would proclaim his prowess, as was formerly
done, by wearing in the holes of his ears the counters that marked the
number of his successful guesses.
_Properties_.--A number of wheat or other straws cut about a foot long; a
mat or blanket; a pointed staff for the Leader.
_Directions_.--Ten straws must be laid aside as counters for each player.
The rest of the straws are separated into tens and each ten tied with a
wisp, making a bundle; one bundle must have eleven straws. There should be
as many bundles as players. The bundles must all be tied alike. The game
consists in guessing which bundle has the eleven straws. The number of
guesses allowed in a game must be fixed upon before starting to play.
All the bundles are thrown in a heap upon the center of the mat. The
Leader, who is generally chosen by lot, leads the players to the mat
containing the bundles. Each player holds in his left hand his ten counters
and follows the Leader with his staff as he moves around the mat from left
to right, while all sing the following song, taking steps to the rhythm of
When the Leader strikes his staff on the ground every player must stop just
where he happens to be, stoop and pick up a bundle with his right hand and
begin to wave it above his head and sway his body to the time of the song.
When the Leader points with his staff to a player, that person must make a
guess. As he scans the waving bundles he points with his left hand that
holds his counters to the bundle which he thinks contains the eleven
straws. If the guess proves to be correct, the guesser puts one of his
counters in his hair or behind his ear. At once all bundles must be thrown
in a heap on the mat. The Leader then moves forward by the left, followed
by the players, every one singing and keeping time with the song. When the
Leader strikes the ground with his staff, all halt. Each player immediately
seizes a bundle, holds it aloft and begins to wave it. The Leader
designates with his staff a person who must guess. If the guess is wrong,
the guesser drops one of his counters on the mat and the Leader points to
another player who must guess. If he loses, he drops one of his counters on
the mat; the guessing goes on as described, until some one is successful
and puts a counter in his hair, when the bundles are all thrown on the mat
and the play begins again as before. Should the person designated by the
Leader to guess think that he holds the bundle with eleven straws, he must
point it at the Leader. If this surmise is correct, the person guessing
puts a counter in his hair and all bundles are again thrown on the mat.
In this way the game proceeds until some player has won the requisite
number of counters and has them all standing in his hair. Throughout the
game the singing must be kept up, accompanied by rhythmic movements of the
feet and the body, the players acting as though searching among the tall
grass for a desired clump. When a point is won, the Leader should shout out
the counter won, without interrupting the song or the play. Among the
Indians the game, once started, is kept going without halt or break in the
song or the movements. The calling out of the winnings in no way disturbs
the singing or the playing.
The victor should wear his successful counters in his hair the rest of the
day, if possible.
Introductory Note.--This game is played among one of the basket making
tribes of California. As not infrequently occurs in Indian games, there is
in this pastime a reflection both of the environment and of the vocations
of the people who used it. The drama or theme of the play is the search for
a particular reed, which for the purpose of the game is marked in a special
_Properties_.--A mat or blanket and about fifty reeds; the reeds should be
similar in thickness and about a foot long.
_Directions_.--The number of points which shall constitute winning the game
should first be agreed upon; if ten be the number, then twenty reeds should
be set aside as counters and the rest used as game-reeds. All of these
latter must be alike save one, and that reed must have a black band about
an inch or so wide painted around the middle, that is, midway between the
two ends of the reed. It is this particular reed that must be detected or
its location guessed.
The mat or blanket should be laid east and west. The two players sit
opposite each other, one near the northern edge of the mat, the other near
the southern edge. The counters are divided in half, one-half put at the
eastern end of the mat, the other half at the western. The counters at the
east belong to the player sitting at the north, those at the west to the
player at the south. Two singers stand back of each player. The spectators
are grouped about the mat, but must not be too near the players. Lots are
drawn to decide which player shall "hold the reeds." The player who loses
the chance to "hold the reeds" becomes the one who is to be the guesser.
All the game-reeds, including the reed with the black band painted on it,
are thrown in a pile in the center of the mat or blanket. The player who is
to "hold the reeds" gathers all the game-reeds in his hands, brings them
behind his back, where he shuffles and divides the reeds into two bunches,
one for each hand. When he is ready to bring his hands forward, each one
with a bunch of reeds grasped by the middle, the two singers standing
behind him start the following song:
When the music begins, the player holding the reeds sways his body from
side to side, moves his arms and hands with the reeds and simulates being
blown by the winds. The opposite player, by the movements of body and arms,
indicates that he is pushing his way through tall reeds tossed by the wind,
searching for something he desires to find. Both players in all their
movements must keep in rhythm of the song, observe strict time and strive
to make their actions tell the story plainly. The guesser through all his
motions must keep his eyes on the bunches held by his opponent, seeking for
an indication to show which one contains the marked reed. When he is ready
to guess he extends both arms toward the bunch he has fixed upon, as if to
grasp it. At this action the holder of the reeds must open his hand and let
the reeds of that bundle fall on the mat. The guesser then searches among
the spilled reeds for the one that is marked; if he finds it, he holds it
up so that all can see that his guess has been correct and the reed
discovered. The two singers who stand behind him give the victory shout, go
to his pile of counters, take one and place it at his right hand, then the
reeds of the other bunch are thrown by the holder on the mat, so that all
the game-reeds are lying in the center, as at the beginning of the game.
The player who made the successful guess now picks up the game-reeds and
behind his back shuffles and divides them. When he is ready to bring
forward his two hands holding the reeds, the two singers standing behind
him begin the Game Song, while he waves the bunches, acting what is now his
role, that of the reeds being blown about by the winds. The other player
now becomes the guesser and must act as though he were searching among the
blown reeds for the one he desires.
The player who "holds the reeds" is thought to have the advantage; that is
why lots are drawn at the beginning to decide who shall have that part in
the game. The player holding the reeds aims to make the guessing as
difficult as possible by deftness in hiding the banded reed, so as to keep
Every time a guess is made the reeds of the bunch guessed must at once be
dropped on the mat, that all may see the reeds while the guesser searches
among them for the marked reed. If he cannot find it, the singers who stand
behind him call out that a point has been lost, take a counter from his
pile and place it at the right hand of the player holding the reeds, who at
once drops all the game-reeds on the middle of the mat, to be again taken
up by him, shuffled and divided behind his back, when he resumes the waving
of the bunches of reeds blown by the wind and the guesser who lost starts
to make another guess. Should he be successful, the counter he had lost
would be taken back and placed at his right hand. In this manner counters
lost can be reclaimed, until one or the other of the players has won and
been able to hold the number of counters required for the game.
The presentation of the little drama of this game rhythmically affords an
opportunity for considerable dramatic action and yields pleasure both to
the performers and to the spectators. This game was much played among the
tribes where it was known.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--This game, Dr. Culin states, is played among eighty-one
Indian tribes of the United States. The game bears different names in the
various languages of these tribes. Hand Game is a descriptive term and not
a translation of any native name; it refers to the fact that the object is
held in the hand during the play. The following form of this game is the
way it was formerly played among the Nez Perce Indians of the State of
Idaho. Lewis and Clark, who were the first white men to record their
meeting with these Indians, mention this game, and Capt. Bonneville gives
an account of it when he visited the tribe during the third decade of the
_Properties_.--A bone or wooden bead about two inches in length and half an
inch in thickness; thirty counting sticks (these are sometimes spoken of as
arrows, and there are indications that they were once arrows--the arrows of
the twin gods); a mat oblong in shape; two logs or pieces of board about
the length of the mat, and as many sticks (to be used as drum-sticks) as
players can sit on one side of the mat.
_Directions_.--The mat should be laid east and west, the logs or boards put
on the north and south edges and the counting sticks placed in two piles of
fifteen each on the ends of the mat. The players sit on the ground, a row
on each side of the mat to the north and south. Lots are drawn to decide
which side shall have the bead "in hand." The Leader and the singers must
always stand behind the row of players who have the bead "in hand." The
opposite side must have the drum-sticks and beat on the log or board in
time with the singers.
When the players are seated in two rows, one on each side of the mat, the
Leader hands the bead to a player on the side that has drawn the right to
have the bead "in hand," and then takes his place beside the singers, who
stand behind that row, and starts the following song. All in that row join
in the singing.
HAND GAME SONG
The players on the opposite side, who are to guess who is hiding the bead,
at once begin to beat the time of the song on the log or board that is in
front of them, on the edge of the mat, and at the same time they must watch
the other side where the players are trying to pass the bead from one hand
to the other and from one person to another without exposing the bead to
view. In all these actions the movements of hands, arms and body must be
rhythmical and in time with the song. All the players in the row that has
the bead "in hand" must act as if each one either had the bead or was
trying to pass it on, whether he actually has the bead or does not have it.
When one on the opposite side thinks he detects the whereabouts of the bead
and is willing to risk a guess, he points his drum-stick to the hand he
thinks has the bead and cries, "Hi-i!" and the hand indicated must be
immediately opened so that all may see whether the guess is correct or not.
If the bead is seen to be in the opened hand, the Leader calls out,
"Success!" and goes to the pile of counting sticks belonging to the side of
the guesser, takes one and stands it in the ground in front of the
successful guesser. The Leader then hands the bead to the player who has
won and proceeds to gather the drum-sticks and distribute them to the
players on the opposite side. The singers pass around and take their places
behind the row of players who now have the bead "in hand." When all are in
readiness, the Leader starts the song again and the players begin their
movements of secretly passing the bead, while the other side beat time with
their drum-sticks on the log or board in front of them. The side that has
the bead "in hand" always does the singing, led by the Leader and singers,
who must stand at the rear of the row having the bead.
If a guess is incorrect the Leader goes to the pile of counting sticks that
belongs to the side which has the drum-sticks, takes a counting stick and
thrusts it in the ground in front of the row opposite to the guesser; that
means one lost to his side. The bead in that instance remains on the same
side until it is won by the opposite side through a successful guess.
In this manner the game goes on until one side or the other has won all the
thirty counting sticks and become the victor in the game.
HIDING THE DISKS
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--This game, known under a variety of names, is a
favorite among the Indian tribes living on the North Pacific Coast. The
disks, always of an uneven number, are made of wood and ornamented with
designs composed of segments of circles with groupings of dots. Some of the
markings are regarded as cabalistic, and there are men who claim to have a
knowledge of spells that will bring luck to the disks they ornament and
treat; such disks are considered valuable and often command a high price.
All of the disks in a set that is used in this game are ornamented alike
except one; this must be different from the others. It may be decorated
with red, for the sun, or with a dark color almost black, for the night.
This disk is frequently called the "chief," and the aim of the game is to
guess in which pile of disks the "chief" is hidden.
_Properties_.--A mat on which the game is played; a small mat on which the
counting or tally-sticks are put; a board that is to serve as a drum; four
drum-sticks; nine wooden disks about two and a half inches in diameter. The
designs on the nine disks, the twenty tally-sticks and the four drum-sticks
should be in color or burned into the wood. Eight of the disks should be
decorated alike; the ninth must be different and have either red or brown
as the predominating color; this disk is the "chief." A bundle of excelsior
is to be the substitute for the fiber of cedar bark which is used by the
Indians of the Northwest Coast when playing this game; if excelsior is not
available, dry leaves or some other dry material might be substituted,
within which, or under which, the disks could be hidden. All the articles
used in this game except the mats should be made in camp.
_Directions_.--An uneven number of players is required for this game. The
mat is laid east and west; at a little distance back to the northwest the
small mat is placed and on it are put the twenty tally-sticks. In a line
with the small mats to the northeast is laid the board around which the
four singers and drummers sit. The bundle of excelsior, or whatever
material is used in its place, together with the nine disks, is put at the
western end of the mat; before these is the place for the player who is to
hide the disks. On the northern and southern side of the mat sit the
players who are to guess where the "chief" is hidden, three or four on a
side. The messenger stands at the eastern end of the mat facing the player
who is to hide the disks. Lots should be drawn to determine who of the six
or eight players are to sit on the northern side and who on the southern
side. The player who is to do the hiding of the disks can be either
selected or drawn by lot. Whoever takes this part in the game should be
capable of considerable dramatic action. Among the Indians the person who
does the hiding of the disks personifies one who practices magic; he makes
passes over the disks and the cedar fiber under which the disks are hidden,
makes signs and movements, and does what he can to throw a spell of
confusion over those who are to guess where the "chief" is hidden.
When the players about the mat, the singers about the board drum and the
messenger standing at the eastern end of the mat are all in readiness, the
singers begin the following song, keeping time by beating with their
drum-sticks on the board drum; the players about the mat join in the
HIDING THE DISKS
The player at the western end of the mat opens the bundle of excelsior or
other material and spreads it on the mat and then puts all the nine disks
under the material, making many movements as he does so, all of which must
be in rhythm with the song, rolling the disks about under the material and
finally dividing them into two parts, well covered up by the material. He
continues to make passes with his hands as though invoking mysterious
forces and to shuffle around the two piles of material in which the disks
are hidden. Suddenly a player points to one of the piles; the player at the
end ceases to shuffle and sends the disks concealed in the pile rolling
down the mat to the messenger standing at the other end, who looks to see
if the "chief" is among the disks rolled toward him. If he finds it, all of
the players on the side of the guesser give the victory shout and the
messenger goes to the small mat, brings one of the tally-sticks and stands
it before the successful guesser. Then the messenger rolls the disks back
to the other end of the mat where the person sits who hides the disks. That
player begins again his passes and movements as he mixes together the nine
disks and hides them under the material; then he divides the disks and the
material under which they are hidden into two piles, shuffles them about
until a player points to a pile, when he at once stops shuffling and sends
the disks under the pile pointed at rolling down the mat to the messenger.
If the "chief" is not found among the disks, the side to which the
unsuccessful guesser belongs loses a point, and the messenger takes from
the small mat a tally-stick and stands it at the end of the row of players
on the opposite side. The disks are then sent spinning over the mat to the
player who hides them. He mixes up the disks, hides them, shuffles the
piles until another guess is made. If that guess should be by a player on
the side that had just lost a point, and the guess prove to be
successful--that is, the pile pointed at contain the "chief"--then the
messenger takes the tally-stick that had been put at the end of the row of
the opposite side and stands it in front of the successful guesser. He
could not take back a tally-stick that had been won by a guess unless all
the tally-sticks had been taken from the small mat. One side or the other
must win twenty points to be victor in the game. In the process of winning
the game the tally-sticks may therefore be taken back and forth before one
side wins the entire twenty.
The victory shout is given only when a successful guess is made. The
singing stops at a victory shout and is resumed as soon as the disks are
rolled back to the player who hides the disks. He must be careful to keep
all his dramatic actions and movements of hands, arms, body and head in
rhythmic accord with the song. The steps and movements of the messenger
must also be in time with the song.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--This game belongs to the class of guessing games. The
form here presented is adapted from the game as played by the Omaha, Otoe,
Ponca and Pawnee tribes, among whom it is a favorite.
_Properties_.--A standard, or the camp flagstaff can be used; a blanket or
rug; three official scarfs, one blue, one green, one white; two wands, one
decorated with blue and the other with green; eight tally-rods, ornamented
at one end with red tassels; two small balls of a light, soft material,
hair or wool; a drum; six decorated drum-sticks; rosettes of blue and of
green; strips of blue and green paper.
_Directions_.--A fairly level open space large enough for a circle of from
twenty to thirty feet in diameter is marked upon the ground, in the center
of which the standard is planted. Directly west and on a line with the
standard the blanket or rug is spread. In front of the rug and on a line
with the standard the drum is set. At a little distance on each side of the
drum the two wands are thrust in the ground, the one decorated with blue to
the north, the one with green to the south. On the rug back of the drum the
eight tally-rods are laid in a bunch, with the butts of the rods toward the
east. At the butts of the rods are placed the two little balls.
The players draw lots as to which side they are to belong. This is done by
putting the green and blue strips of paper in a receptacle and each one
drawing a strip. Those who draw blue belong to the north side; those who
draw green, to the south side. Each player must then fasten a rosette, of
the color of the side to which he or she belongs, on the shoulder; those
who belong to the north side must put the blue rosette on the right
shoulder, and those who belong to the south side must put the green rosette
on the left shoulder.
_Officers_.--Two Judges; a Custodian; two Guessers; six Singers.
The players on the north side choose from among their number one who is to
be their Judge; the players on the south side choose one for their Judge.
It is the duty of the Judges to select the Custodian, the six Singers, the
two Guessers; to preserve order, decide when there are disputes, and to
lead in the opening ceremony.
The Custodian has charge of all the properties, must place them as
directed, move the drum from side to side, and at the close of the game
gather all the articles required for the game and put them in a place of
safe keeping for use at another time. The Custodian wears the official
white scarf tied about the waist. This officer does not wear any rosette,
as the Custodian does not belong to either side but to all who take part in
The Judge on the north side must wear the blue official scarf. This is
crossed over the breast from the right shoulder, on which is the blue
rosette, to the waist on the left side, where it is tied. The Judge on the
south side wears the green official scarf. This is crossed over the breast
from the left shoulder, where is the green rosette, to the waist at the
right side, where it is tied.
The six Singers, three for each side, sit in an open group on the ground
near the ends of the rug, those wearing blue rosettes on the north and
those wearing green rosettes on the south side. The players take their
seats on the ground on the line of the circle, those wearing blue rosettes
on the north half, those wearing green rosettes on the south half of the
When all are in their places the Custodian leads the two Judges to the rug,
on which they are to sit a little back of the wands--blue to the North,
green to the South. The Custodian then takes up the tally-rods, gives four
to each of the Judges and retires to stand back of the rug, behind the
Judges, ready for duty.
Up to this moment laughing and talking goes on among the players, but as
the Custodian divides the tally-rods and hands them to the Judges instant
silence falls on all present.
THE OPENING CEREMONY
The two Judges rise in their places. The north side Judge holds the four
tally-rods in his right hand, the south side Judge holds the four
tally-rods in his left hand; the two then walk abreast to the standard.
There they face the North, move forward a few steps, pause, and each Judge
holds up his tally-rods to the North, while all the players on both sides
of the circle sing the following song:
Hail! O North! Thy wind send
To blow care away,
To bring joy to-day;
Makes Eyes keen,
Make Hands swift for play.
At the close of the stanza the two Judges lower their tally-rods, turn,
walk toward the East, pause, then elevate their tally-rods, and all the
players sing the second stanza.
Hail! O East! Thy wind send
To blow care away,
To bring joy to-day;
Makes Eyes keen,
Make Hands swift for play.
At the close of the stanza the two Judges lower their tally-rods, turn,
walk toward the South, pause, again elevate their tally-rods, while all the
players sing the third stanza.
Hail! O South! Thy wind send
To blow care away,
To bring joy to-day;
Make Eyes keen,
Make Hands swift for play.
At the close of this stanza the two Judges lower their tally-rods, turn,
walk toward the West, pause, once more elevate their tally-rods, and all
the players join in singing the fourth stanza.
Hail! O West! Thy wind send
To blow care away,
To bring joy to-day;
Make Eyes keen,
Make Hands swift for play.
At the close of the song the Judges lower their tally-rods and walk to the
rug, where they take their appointed seats behind the respective wands.
They then lay all the tally-rods on the space between them.
A contest now takes place between the two persons chosen by the Judges to
be the two Guessers, one for each side, to decide which shall begin the
game. The Judge for the north side calls the name of the person chosen to
be the Guesser for that side and the Custodian escorts him to his place
within the circle. The Judge for the south side calls the name of the
person chosen to be Guesser for that side, and the Custodian escorts him to
his place within the circle. The Custodian then gives to each the wand
belonging to his side and also one of the small balls.
The Guesser from the north side hides his ball in one of his hands,
shifting it behind his back, then he holds out both hands in front of him
with all the fingers closed except the index finger, which is extended as
if pointing to the other Guesser. Both hands and forearms must be
rhythmically moved up and down. The south side Guesser watches for a moment
and then points with his wand to the hand he thinks has the ball. As soon
as he points to a hand, it must be immediately opened, palm upward. Should
the ball be in the other hand, it must be shown to be lying there. If the
guess was correct, the ball being in the hand pointed at, it counts one.
Three correct guesses must be made by one of the Guessers in order to
secure for his side the right to open the game. In this contest the
Guessers must alternate, first the north side Guesser, then the south side
Guesser, and so on until one of the Guessers has won three correct guesses.
That decides it. His side is to hide the ball and the other side's Guesser
is to do the guessing.
The Custodian takes the drum from its position in front of the rug, carries
it to the side of the successful Guesser and sets it before the three
Singers who are to lead in the singing of the song belonging to that side
of the circle of players. Every one on that side must sing the song as they
hide the balls. Only those on the side that is hiding the balls sing. They
can only sing the song that belongs to their side.
SONG FOR THE NORTH SIDE
SONG FOR THE SOUTH SIDE
There are no words for either of these songs. The vocables given are those
used with these songs when the Indians sing them as they hide the balls.
The Custodian takes the two balls from the Guessers and hands them to two
persons designated by the Guesser who has won the right for that side to
begin. The two persons designated must be two who are sitting together.
They each take a ball, and they must hide the balls in the same manner as
did the Guessers during the contest. The fingers of the hands are closed,
all but the index finger, which is extended as if pointing. The hands and
arms move up and down and also from one side to the other; all of these
movements must be in exact time to the song and the drum-beats. These
swaying, rhythmic movements are pleasing to the eye and add to the
enjoyment of the game. While the two persons having the balls are hiding
them, swaying their hands and arms, the Guesser, who is of the opposite
side, is watching intently the hands of the players. When he is ready to
make a guess he points his wand to where he thinks the balls are--directly
in front, if he suspects the balls to be in the two inside hands. If he
thinks the balls are in the two outside hands, he points his wand to one of
the hands and extends his empty hand toward the other; in that case the
Guesser stands with both of his arms extended. As soon as the Guesser
points with his wand, the hands indicated must be at once opened, palms
upward, so that all can see whether the guess is right or wrong.
Every correct guess counts one for the side of the Guesser. As soon as a
correct guess is made, the Judge for that side takes up one of the
tally-rods and lays it toward his side; this shows that a point has been
won for that side. If the guess is wrong, the Judge for the other side
takes up one of the tally-rods and lays it over on his side. The other side
has lost one, while his side has gained by the other's loss.
To win a sweep, all the eight tally-rods must be gained by one side. Three
sweeps by a side gives that side the game.
Whenever a sweep is made the balls are handed over to the Custodian. The
two Judges rise, go to the standard, stand there, one facing North (his
side), the other the South (his side). The two Guessers go to the standard,
stand there, one facing East, the other West. All the winning side rise, go
toward the standard and form a circle around it. There they sing the
As they sing they sway their arms as though hiding the balls, and dance to
the rhythm of the song. Four times they dance around the standard and sing
the Victory Song. All movements must be in time with the song. At the close
of the fourth circuit of the standard, all return to their appointed places
and the game is resumed.
The Custodian takes up the drum, carries it to the side that has just
danced and sets it before the three Singers of that side. The Guesser, who
is of the opposite side, designates the two who are to hide the balls and
the game proceeds as described above.
Whenever a side that has been hiding the balls fails three times to elude
the Guesser, then the Custodian takes the drum from that side and carries
it to the other side of the circle, puts it before the Singers and gives
the balls as directed. Sometimes there are disputes as to these transfers
and as to the points lost; three must be lost to secure a transfer. It then
becomes the duty of the Judges to decide.
With every transfer of the drum the song changes. The balls and the right
to sing go together, but the song belonging to one side must not be sung by
the other side. The songs are not interchangeable.
This game is provocative of fun and merriment as well as dexterity of hand
and quickness of vision. It also presents a very pretty spectacle. It is
greatly enjoyed by Indian men, women and children. It has also found favor
with merrymakers of our own race.
Indian ball games have one feature not found in the ball games as played by
us; that is, with the Indian the ball is never pitched and tossed by hand
during the play. At the opening of an Indian game the ball must be tossed
by hand, but after that the ball is struck by a racket, stick or club and
in that way sent from player to player and on to the goal. An exception to
this general rule is found in an Omaha ball game given in the following
The opening ceremony requires the ball to be handled and moved in a
peculiar and ceremonial manner by the hand of the Umpire before he tosses
it up for the beginning of the actual play.
The balls used by the Indians are of different materials--buckskin stuffed
with hair; formed from roots, such as the wild-grape vine; wood; bladder
netted with sinew; and in a few instances, of bone or stone.
Three ball games are here given.
BALL AND RACKET
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--The game in which the ball is struck with a racket is
almost exclusively played by men, but there are tribes where it is played
by women, and one tribe, cited by Dr. Culin, where it is played by men and
women together. The form of ball game where the racket is used was less
widely distributed over the country than some others. It was most
frequently found among tribes living near the Atlantic Coast and in the
region of the Great Lakes. It had a limited range on the Pacific. There are
two forms of the Racket Ball Game, one where a single racket is used and
the other where two rackets are employed to catch the ball. The latter form
is peculiar to the tribes formerly living in the Southern States. The game
here given is presented as it is played among the Chippewa tribes dwelling
_Properties_.--A ball, not too hard and the size usually employed for
cricket. As many rackets as there are players. Red and yellow head-bands
equally divided as to number and enough for all the players.
_Directions_.--The field should be as large as the camp ground will permit.
At the extreme East of the field a tall pole should be set as a goal and a
like pole at the West for the other goal. To the pole at the East a red
streamer should be tied and a yellow streamer to the pole at the West.
These poles should be practically in line and as distant from each other as
it is conveniently possible to set them. The rackets should be made in
camp. A racket can be made from a sapling cut at such length that when the
racket is completed it will be 26 inches long. One end of the sapling is
whittled fiat on one side for a sufficient length to be bent round to the
shaft or handle so as to form the rim of the circular receptacle which is
to receive the ball. Sometimes both sides of this bent portion of the
sapling are made flat. The end of this flat end where it curls round upon
the shaft or handle must be bound firmly to the shaft with thongs or heavy
twine. Holes are sometimes bored through the rim and the thongs or twine
are passed through them and woven into a loose netting to form a bottom to
the coiled end, making a shallow cup-shaped receptacle in which to catch or
hold the ball. The rackets are not difficult to make. Each lad should make
his own racket and mark the stem with some device by which he can identify
it should he drop it during the play. Care should be taken when making the
racket to have the cup-shaped receptacle at the end of the shaft of such
size as to hold the ball without its rolling about, in which case it would
be easily dropped when being carried on a run; yet it must be large enough
to catch and hold the ball as it is flying about. The players should be
divided into two parties by casting lots. Those who belong to the east goal
should wear red head-bands; those who have the west goal should wear yellow
head-bands. An Umpire must be selected. The ball must strike one of the
goal posts to make a point; the number of points that shall constitute the
game should be agreed upon. Two players, one from each side, stand near
each goal. One helps the ball for his side; the other hinders the ball when
near the goal by tossing it back into the field again so that his side may
The four players stand at their posts beside the two goals; all the others
gather in the field. The Umpire takes the ball and goes to a place as near
the center of the field as possible. All being in readiness, he throws the
ball with force straight up in the air. Every player watches the ball and
makes ready to try and catch it in his racket when it descends. If one
succeeds in catching the ball, he runs at full speed toward his goal,
holding his racket so that the ball will not fall out. The other players
rush after him, trying to strike his racket and dislodge the ball. If he is
hard pressed he may try to toss the ball to a player on his side who has a
clearer space; if the ball is caught by the player to whom it was sent,
then all the players turn upon the new holder of the ball and try to block
his progress. In this game care must be taken never to strike the arm or
body of a player; only the racket should be struck. There is danger of
receiving injuries if this rule is not strictly observed.
Perhaps one of the most difficult feats in this game is when a player has
brought his ball near to the goal to so turn his racket while it holds the
ball as to send the ball with such force that it will strike the post
squarely and not miss the goal. The difficulty is owing to the horizontal
position of the racket when holding the ball. Of course, the keenest
playing is about the goal, where the guard of the side opposite to the
player does his best to catch the ball on its way to the post and send it
back into the field.
The ball should not be allowed to touch the ground from the time the Umpire
throws it into the air until it falls at the pole after a point has been
made by the ball striking the post. It is the duty of the Umpire to go to
the pole, mark the score, return with the ball to the center of the field,
where he again sends it up into the air, and the game starts afresh for a
second point to be made.
This game is good sport; it develops and requires skill, agility and
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--This ball game was known to a number of tribes that
formerly lived on the prairies, and called by different names. The game as
here given is as it was played among the Omaha. The opening of the game was
ceremonial. The person who performed the opening ceremony had to belong to
the tribal group that had charge of the rites pertaining to the Wind, for
the figure outlined on the ground by the movements of the ball in the
opening ceremony was one of the symbols of the Wind. The Wind when spoken
of ceremonially was called the Four Winds, one for each of the four points
of the compass. These Four Winds were regarded as the messengers of the
Giver of Life, known as Wakon'da by the Omaha and kindred tribes. The
recognition of man's connection with the forces of Nature did not disturb
the pleasure of the Indian when entering upon a game; on the contrary, it
tended to enhance his happiness by bringing to his mind his dependence upon
Wakon'da, together with the feeling of being in accord with the power
represented by the Wind.
_Properties_.--A ball about three or four inches in diameter; the Omaha and
kindred tribes made the ball out of the root of the wild-grape vine. As
many sticks as there are players, the sticks to be about three feet long
and crooked over at one end. Each stick should be marked by some design
invented by its owner, so that each player can identify his stick.
[Illustration: DIAGRAM OF THE TA-BE
1 Circle showing lines made by the ball
4 Players at the opening of the game]
_Directions_.--A wide open field is best for this game. Two goals, one at
the East, the other at the West. The goals are each made by two posts with
a cross piece on top. The path of the ball is East and West.
The officers of the game are: an Umpire, four Guardians of the Path. Two of
the Guardians of the Path stand at the eastern goal and two at the western
goal. The two Guardians at a goal represent the two sides; one wears a
yellow streamer or badge, the color of the West; the other wears a red
streamer or badge, the color of the East. A red streamer is tied to the
goal at the East and a yellow streamer to the goal at the West. It is the
duty of the one who wears the color of the goal by which he stands to try
and help the ball through the goal when it comes in that direction, and it
is the duty of the one who wears the color of the opposite goal to prevent
the ball from going through and to send it back into the field or toward
the other goal.
The players on the two sides are chosen in the following manner: The person
who is to act as Umpire and to perform the opening ceremony must sit in a
circle drawn on the ground, about six feet in diameter, and face either the
North or the South. All the sticks are placed before him in a bunch. He is
then blindfolded. After that he picks up a stick with each hand and lays
down the stick that he has in his right hand on his left side, the stick
that he has in his left hand he lays down on his right side. When he has
finished dividing the sticks in this manner they are in two bunches, one
toward the East and the other toward the West. The blindfold is then
removed. When that is done, all the players run to the two heaps and each
takes his own stick, recognizing it by the design marked or cut upon the
stick. All those whose sticks were in the pile to the East must tie on a
badge or streamer the color of the East, red. All those whose sticks were
in the bunch toward the West must tie on the color of the West, yellow.
All the players must now stand in two lines. One line starts from the
circle and extends directly toward the goal at the East; all in this line
must be only those whose sticks were in the east pile and who have on the
color of the East, red. The other line starts from the circle and stretches
out toward the west goal, and is composed of those whose sticks were in the
west pile and who have on the color of the West, yellow. The four Guardians
of the Path take their places. The Umpire wears no color. All being in
readiness, the Umpire advances to the middle of the circle.
THE OPENING CEREMONY
The Umpire places the ball in the exact center of the circle, then he
gently urges it with his stick in a line toward the North until it reaches
the edge of the circle. There he picks it up and puts it back in the center
of the circle. Again he gently pushes it with his stick along a line toward
the South until the edge of the circle is reached, when he returns the ball
to the center of the circle with his hand. In the same manner as before he
sends the ball slowly along a line to the West. When the edge of the circle
is reached he picks up the ball and returns it to the center. Once more the
ball is moved in a line, this time to the East; when it touches the line of
the circle it is picked up as before and placed in the center of the
circle. The symbolic figure that has thus been made is that of a circle
within which two straight lines cross each other at right angles; the
circle is divided into four quarters, one for each of the Four Winds.
Every player now stands at attention, with his stick ready for action. The
Umpire pauses a moment at the center of the circle, then he picks up the
ball lying there and throws it into the air as high as he can. All the
players, who have watched the throw, run in the direction where the ball
seems likely to descend, in order to have a chance to strike it toward one
of the goals.
To win the game the ball must be sent through a goal; to strike it so that
it goes over or around the goal does not count. The ball must be made to
take a straight line, to "make a straight path" through a goal, then the
game is won. When a good shot is made, all on the side of the one who made
the stroke should send up a shout. When the goal is won the winning side
should give the victory cry of the game, "Ta-be!"
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--Some stories credit the Moon as the giver of this game
to the women, by whom it is exclusively played throughout the United States
except among the tribes in Northern California, where the men use the game.
There are indications that the Double-ball Game was known upon this
continent in the remote past.
The peculiar ball employed for this game is composed of two small stuffed
pouches connected by a band, or two billets of wood about five inches long,
made like thick pegs with heads and ornamented on all sides with carvings;
a leather thong five to eight inches long is attached at each end to the
neck of each of the two billets. Dr. Culin reports an ingenious specimen
made by the Maricopa Indians of Arizona; that double-ball is made from
narrow strips of leather braided to form a band, each end of which is
enlarged by braiding so as to make a ball, the finished article being about
eight inches in length. (Ibid., p.665, Fig. 882.)
_Properties_.--One double-ball; as many sticks as players; red and yellow
head-bands, equal in number, for the two sides of players.
_Directions_.--The double-ball should be made in camp in the following
manner: A strip of leather or of strong, closely woven brown cloth from
fifteen to twenty inches long. For six inches from both ends the strip
should be about seven inches wide; the portion of the strip between these
wide ends should be about three inches wide. The wide ends are to form the
pouches, and the narrower middle section the band to connect the two
pouches. The two edges of the strip should be lapped and strongly sewed the
entire length of the strip, except a small opening about an inch long left
on the side of each of the pouches. Through this opening the pouches are
filled with dry sand, then the edges are securely sewed together so that no
sand can escape. These pouches are the "balls." The sides of the pouches
should be decorated with designs painted in bright colors and a little tuft
or tassel of red yarn fastened at the middle of the bottom of the pouch.
The sticks should be about thirty-two inches long, not too heavy and
somewhat pointed at one end that is slightly curved. Each stick should be
marked by an individual device so that it can be claimed by its owner.
Two wickets, made by crotched poles about five and a half to six feet high,
having a bar fastened across the top, are placed in line with each other,
one at the East, the other at the West, and as far apart as the limits of
the camp grounds will permit. A red streamer to be tied to the eastern
wicket and a yellow streamer to the western wicket.
The players are divided into two parties of equal numbers and lots should
be drawn to decide which side shall have the eastern goal, and all of that
side must wear red head-bands; the other side must wear yellow head-bands
to show that theirs is the western goal.
An Umpire must be chosen, to whom belongs the duty of tossing the ball when
necessary; to keep the score, and to settle any disputes.
To make a point the ball must be tossed so as to hang on the crossbar of
the wicket. An agreement must be made as to how many points shall
constitute the game.
The players stand in two rows about fifteen to twenty feet apart, one color
on one side, the other color opposite. The Umpire takes a place between the
two lines and as near as possible to the middle of the rows. When all are
in readiness the double-ball is tossed by the Umpire straight up into the
air, and all those whose places are near the middle of the rows watch the
descent of the "ball" and try to catch on their sticks the connecting cord
of the double-ball. If one succeeds, she tries to send it down the line
toward the goal of her side; those of the opposite side try to prevent
success to this movement and to send the "ball" in the other direction. The
"ball" should not be allowed to touch the ground from the time it is tossed
until it is lodged on the wicket. The side that lets the "ball" fall to the
ground loses a count, and the side that keeps the "ball" up until it
reaches the goal scores two points, equal to four counts.
HOOP AND JAVELIN
INTRODUCTORY NOTE.--This game was widely known and played among the various
tribes dwelling within the territory now occupied by the United States. In
its passage from one tribe to another the game became modified into several
types, but the fundamental character was not changed, so that all these
types are, in a sense, a unit. The game is very old upon this land; the
articles used in playing it have been found in ancient graves, in the cliff
dwellings of the Southwest and in various ruins scattered over the country.
Among the Pueblo tribes the articles used in types of this game appear
among the paraphernalia on altars prepared for certain ceremonies. From a
study of these ceremonies in connection with the myths of the people it
seems probable that the hoop used in this game represents the shield of the
War God. When the hoop has a netting that fills the center and covers the
edges, the netting simulates the magic web of the Spider Woman, a person
that frequently figures in the myths and stories of different tribes. Her
web generally serves as a protection furnished by her in a conflict.
The netted hoop appears as a decoration upon the interior of pottery bowls
formerly made by the Indians of the Southwest. In some of these bowls the
netting is dotted with spots. Dr. Culin regards this particular design "as
representing the spider web with the dew upon it," and adds: "The 'water
shield' [of one of the Zuni War Gods], from which he shook the torrents,
was suggested, no doubt, by dew on the web." (Ibid., p.425.) To one
unfamiliar with the Indian's habit of mind it may seem strained to connect
the beads of dew on a spider's web with the torrential rain, but to one
familiar with native thought as expressed in myths where the Indian has
dramatized his conceptions of nature and of natural forces and phenomena,
the connection ceases to be strange.
On the Pueblo altars the netted shield is always associated with arrows,
bows or darts. In the various types of this game the arrows, darts, bows,
javelins and lances that are associated with the hoop are interchangeable,
some tribes using one and other tribes another. Under all the varied types
with their different forms as found among scattered and unrelated tribes
the game holds to its original significance, primarily religious in
character, being an appeal for the protection and the perpetuity of life.
Only two articles are required for this game, the hoop and the javelin. In
one type the hoop is covered with a netting more or less closely and
elaborately woven. In all the netted designs it is usually possible to
trace a figure as of a path crossing at right angles in the center of the
space within the hoop and ending at four equidistant points on the edge of
the hoop. This path indicates the path of the Four Winds, which stand with
their life-giving power at the four directions, the North, East, South and
West. In some localities the netting of the hoop is made from the yucca, in
other places corn husks are used. With the closely netted hoop arrows are
apt to be found. Some of these have as the shaft a corn cob with a stick
about eighteen inches long thrust through the cob, sharpened at the lower
end and a tuft of feathers tied to the upper end; this feathered stick is a
prayer-stick such as is offered at a shrine.
In another type of the game the hoop is of stone; the lance is associated
with this kind of hoop.
There are a variety of nettings for the hoop and much diversity in the
style of arrows, darts and javelins used in the game.
The simplest is chosen to be here presented, for the reason that both the
articles used in the game should be made in the camp where it is to be
played. The hoop and javelins were always made by the youths who joined in
the sport, and the making of hoop and javelin was part of the fun.
[Illustration: HOOP AND JAVELIN]
_Properties_.--A hoop and two javelins.
The hoop is made in the following manner: A piece of rope, not of a heavy
kind, about sixteen inches long will give the foundation for a hoop about
four inches in diameter. The two ends should be spliced together so as to
leave the edge of the hoop even. The ring of rope is wound with a strip of
leather or cloth in order to give the hoop such a surface that it can roll
and yet be flexible and light.
The javelin is made of three parts, the shaft and the two barbs. The shaft
is of wood, four feet long, round and smooth. An inch from one end a
section three inches long is cut into both sides of the shaft a quarter of
an inch deep, and the bottom and sides made smooth. The barbs are formed
from two small branches cut from a tree or shrub so as to preserve three
inches of the stem from which the branch forks; the branch is cut so as to
be five inches long and is made flat on the inner side. The stem is made
flat on both sides; a flange is made on the outer side. Several pieces of
leather are cut, a quarter of an inch wide and an inch long; these are
bound for half their length to the inner and flat side of the branch so as
to leave the ends free, which are bent up and stand like teeth along the
barb. The stems of the barbs are now fitted into the sections cut on both
sides of the shaft so that the barbs point backward on each side of the
shaft, and are firmly bound in place on the shaft. About three inches from
the other end of the shaft a band is cut around the shaft but not very
deeply. The two javelins are made as nearly alike as possible in justice to
_Directions_.--A level course from North to South and from fifty to one
hundred feet long. Four players; two stand at the north end of the course
and two at the south end. The one whose place is toward the East on the
north and the one who stands toward the East on the south end are partners.
Both of these players should wear a red band about the head, as red is the
color of the East. The two players who stand toward the West at the two
ends are partners, and these should wear yellow bands about their heads,
yellow being the color of the West. The opponents in the game, therefore,
stand side by side. Partners cannot help each other in the playing, but
both players count for their side all the points they make.
The javelin is grasped by the middle, the barbed end toward the back, and
the plain rounded end is shot toward the hoop.
The number of points that will constitute the game should be decided upon
before beginning the game. Ten is the usual number among the Indians. Lots
should be drawn as to which of the four players should be the first to
throw the hoop. The one who draws the hoop then takes one of the javelins,
and the player whose place is beside him takes the other javelin.
At a signal, the players with the javelins and the hoop start on a run
along the course; the one with the hoop throws it a little upward with all
his force and both players watch the course of the hoop, having their
javelins ready to hurl at the hoop the instant they think they can reach
it. If the javelin passes through the hoop and stops it so that it falls on
the shaft below the band that was cut thereon, that throw counts two. If
the hoop is caught on one of the barbs, that counts one. If the shaft goes
entirely through the hoop so that it does not fall on the javelin, that
counts nothing. If both javelins catch on the hoop, that is a draw and
neither player can count the point made. If on this run and throwing of the
hoop and javelins neither of the players scores a count, the player at the
other end who is the partner of the one who threw the hoop now takes the
hoop to throw it. He and his opponent who stands beside him now start on a
run; the hoop is thrown and the javelins hurled as before. In this way the
players at the ends of the course alternate in throwing the hoop North or
South, but the right to throw the hoop belongs to the player who makes the
best point. The hoop thus passes from the east or west players according to
the points made.
The game is an athletic sport, and much skill can be developed in the
throwing of the javelins and also in the tossing of the hoop so as to
prevent scoring by the opponent.
If the grounds are large enough, there is nothing to prevent having two
courses and two games going on at the same time.
FOLLOW MY LEADER
This game is widely played among the Indian tribes, particularly by the
boys, and also by the girls. The Leader improvises the steps and the
movements, which all who follow must repeat and keep time to the song. The
song here given is traditional in the Omaha tribe. It has been handed down
from one generation of young folk to another--for how many, "nobody knows."
A Leader is chosen, and all who join in the game must go where he goes,
dance as he dances, move the arms, hands and feet as he does. The skipping
and dancing must be in exact time with the song that all must sing. The
game gives opportunity for fancy steps, winding, intricate figures,
"cutting capers" and merry pranks.
Follow my Leader where'er he goes;
What he'll do next, nobody knows.
INTRODUCTION.--Among the Indian tribes of the United States all personal
names have a definite significance. Although there are diversities in the
customs relating to names among the various tribes, yet, looking at these
as a whole, personal names are observed to fall generally into two classes:
First, those which refer to sacred rites; second, those which commemorate a
An Indian tribe is composed of a number of kinship groups or clans. To each
one of these, speaking generally, belongs the hereditary duty of performing
a certain rite and also the care of the sacred objects connected with that
rite. Each kinship group or clan has a set of personal names, all of which
refer to the rite peculiar to the clan, or to the sacred objects or to the
symbols connected with the rite, and one of these names is given to each
person born within the clan. Names of this class are generally retained by
men and women throughout life and, to a degree, are regarded as sacred in
character. These names have also a social significance, as they always
indicate the birth status of the person, for the name at once shows to
which clan or kinship group the bearer belongs. No one can exchange his
clan or birth name, any more than he can change his sex.
The names that belong to the second class are those which are taken by an
adult to mark an achievement. This must be an act in which he has shown
special ability or courage in successfully defending his people from
danger. Such a name, therefore, marks an epoch in a man's life and is
strictly personal to the man, and, to a degree, indicative of his character
or attainments. It sometimes happens, although but rarely, that a man on
such an occasion may decide to take the name of a noted ancestor rather
than acquire an entirely new name, but the character of the act of taking a
new name is not thereby changed.
These facts concerning the significance of Indian personal names throw
light on the widespread custom observed among Indians of never addressing
men or women by their personal names or of using those names in their
presence. To do so is a breach of good manners. The personal name, as has
been shown, refers either to the religious rites sacred to the bearer's
clan or else to a notable act performed by the man; in both cases the name
stands for something that is too closely connected with the life of the
individual to make it fit for common use. The difficulty of designating a
person one wishes to address is met by the use of terms of relationship. Of
course, in some companies these terms would be literally true and proper,
but there are terms which are used in a wider sense and which do not imply
actual kinship. (The subject of Indian relationships and their terms is too
complex to be entered upon here.) There are terms which are employed merely
to indicate respect. For instance, "Grandfather" is used when addressing or
speaking of the President of the United States; "Little Father" and
"Father" when addressing or speaking of the Secretary of the Interior and
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, both of whom rank below the President,
as is well known to the Indian. The use of terms of relationship may appear
strange to us, but there is, as we have seen, a reason for it. This reason
also explains why a child or an adult generally stands mute when we address
him by his personal name or ask him what his name is; his silence is not to
be attributed to "Indian stolidity," which we ignorantly regard as a marked
characteristic of the race.
The bestowal of a name, whether the name is of the first or of the second
class already described, was always attended with ceremonies. These
differed among the many tribes of the United States, particularly in their
details, but fundamentally they had much in common.
PRESENTING THE CHILD TO THE COSMOS
Among the Omaha a ceremony was observed shortly after the birth of a child
that on broad lines reflects a general belief among the Indians.
In the introductory chapter of this book the Indian's feeling of
unquestioning unity with nature is mentioned. The following Omaha ceremony
and ritual furnish direct testimony to the profundity of this feeling. Its
expression greets him at his birth and is iterated at every important
experience throughout his life.
When an Omaha child is born the parents send to the clan that has charge of
the rite of introducing the child to the Cosmos. The priest thus summoned
comes to the tent wherein the infant lies and takes his stand just outside
the door, facing the East. He raises his right hand, palm outward, to the
sky, and in a clear ringing voice intones the following ritual:
Ho! Ye Sun, Moon, Stars, all ye that move in the heavens,
I bid you hear me!
Into your midst has come a new life;
Consent ye, I implore!
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the first hill!
Ho! Ye Winds, Clouds, Rain, Mist, all ye that move in the air,
I bid you hear me!
Into your midst has come a new life;
Consent ye, I implore!
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the second hill!
Ho! Ye Hills, Valleys, Rivers, Lakes, Trees, Grasses, all ye of the earth,
I bid you hear me!
Into your midst has come a new life;
Consent ye, I implore!
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the third hill!
Ho! Ye Birds, great and small, that fly in the air;
Ho! Ye Animals, great and small, that dwell in the forests;
Ho! Ye Insects that creep among the grasses and burrow in the ground,
I bid you hear me!
Into your midst has come a new life;
Consent ye, I implore!
Make its path smooth, that it may reach the brow of the fourth hill!
Ho! All ye of the heavens, all ye of the air, all ye of the earth,
I bid you hear me!
Into your midst has come a new life;
Consent ye, consent ye all, I implore!
Make its path smooth--then shall it travel beyond the four hills!
In this manner the child, the "new life," was introduced to the Cosmos of
which it was now a part. All the powers of the heavens and of the earth
were invoked to render aid to the "new life" in its onward struggle over
the rugged path that traverses the four hills of life, typifying Infancy,
Youth, Maturity and Old Age.
An infant was merely a "new life," it was wholly dependent upon others; no
name was given it (only endearing terms were used), for the reason that a
name implies either a sacred responsibility or a personal achievement,
neither of which was possible to an infant. When, however, the child could
go about alone, generally at three or four years of age, the time had
arrived when it must be given a tribal name, one belonging to the rites in
charge of its birth group. By means of this ceremonial act the child was
inducted by sacred rites into the tribe and became a recognized member.
GIVING THE CHILD A NAME
This ceremony, formerly practiced among the Omaha and cognate tribes, took
place in the spring, "when the grass was up and the birds were singing." A
tent was set apart and made sacred by the priest who had the hereditary
right to perform the ceremony. As the occasion was one of tribal interest,
many people flocked to the scene of the rite.
A large stone was brought and placed on the east side of the fire that was
burning in the center of the space inside the tent. When everything was
ready the old priest stood at the door awaiting the arrival of the child.
Then all the mothers who had children of the proper age wended their way to
this tent, each one leading her little child, who carried in its hands a
new pair of moccasins. As the two reached the tent the mother addressed the
priest, saying: "Venerable man, I desire my child to wear moccasins." (This
was a symbolic form of expression.) "I desire my child to walk long upon
the earth, to be content with the light of many days. We seek your
protection!" The priest made a formal reply and the little one, carrying
its moccasins, entered the tent alone. After a few ritualistic phrases the
priest accompanied the child to the fire place, where he and the child
stood facing the East while the priest sang an invocation to the Four
Winds. He bade them to come hither and stand in this place in four groups.
At the close of this Ritual Song the priest lifted the child by the arms so
that its little bare feet rested upon the stone, as it faced the South;
then he lifted the child again by the arms and its feet rested on the
stone, as it faced the West; again the child was lifted and its feet were
upon the stone, as it faced the North; once more the priest lifted the
child and its feet touched the stone, as it faced the East. Then the priest
sang the following Ritual Song:
Turned by the Winds goes the one I send yonder,
Yonder he goes who is whirled by the Winds,
Goes where the four hills of life and the Four Winds are standing,
There into the midst of the Winds do I send him,
Into the midst of the Winds standing there!
This song and the entire ceremony, which is spoken of as "Turning the
child," are highly symbolic and cannot be fully explained at this time. The
Winds are the messengers of the great invisible Wakon'da and bring the
breath of life and strength to man. At the close of this song the priest
put the new moccasins on the feet of the child and sang another Ritual Song
Here unto you has been spoken the truth;
Because of this truth you shall stand.
Here declared is the truth;
Here in this place has been shown you the truth.
Therefore, arise! Go forth in its strength!
As the priest sang the last line he set the child on its feet and made it
take four steps toward the East; these steps are typical of its now
entering into life. Then the priest led the child to the entrance of the
tent, where he called aloud the tribal name of the child, then for the
first time proclaimed, adding:
"Ho! Ye Hills, ye Grass, ye Trees, ye creeping things, both great and
small, I bid you hear! This child has thrown away its baby name! Ho!"
All the children of the tribe passed through this ceremony and in this way
received their sacred personal names, which were never dropped throughout
their after-life, not even when a man took a new name.
BESTOWING A NEW NAME
The bestowal of a new name upon an adult generally took place at some
tribal ceremony when all the people were gathered together. In this way as
much publicity as possible was given to the act. Among the Pawnee tribe
there were three requirements that had to be met in order to take a new
First, a man could only take a new name after the performance of an act
indicative of ability or strength of character;
Second, the name had to be assumed openly in the presence of the people to
whom the act it commemorated was known;
Third, it was necessary that it should be announced in connection with such
a ritual as that here given.
These three requirements indicate (1) that a man's name stood for what he
had shown himself to be by the light of his actions; (2) that this was
recognized by his tribesmen, and (3) that it was proclaimed by one having
charge of mediatory rites through which man can be approached by the
The old priest who gave the following ritual and explained it said: "A
man's life is an onward movement. If one has within him a determined
purpose and seeks the help of the powers, his life will climb up." Here he
made a gesture indicating a line slanting upward; then he arrested the
movement and, still holding his hand where he had stopped, went on to say:
"As a man is climbing up, he does something that marks a place in his life
where the powers have given him an opportunity to express in acts his
peculiar endowments; so this place, this act, forms a stage in his career
and he takes a new name to indicate that he is on a level different from
that he occupied previously." He added: "Some men can rise only a little
way, others live on a dead level." He illustrated his words by moving his
hands horizontally. "Men having power to advance climb step by step." Again
he made his meaning clear by outlining a flight of steps.
The following ritual is recited on the occasion of taking a new name and is
a dramatic poem in three parts. The first gives briefly the institution of
the rite of changing one's name in consequence of a new achievement; the
second shows how the man was enabled to accomplish this act. It begins with
his lonely vigil and fast when he cried to the powers for help; the scene
then shifts to the circle of the lesser powers, who, in council, deliberate
on his petition which makes its way to them and finally wins their consent;
then the winds summon the messengers and these, gathering at the command of
the lesser powers, are sent to earth to the man crying in lonely places, to
grant him his desire. This part closes with a few vivid words which set
forth that only by the favor of the powers had the man been able to do the
deed. The third part deals with the man's names--the one to be discarded
and the one now to be assumed. The ritual is in rhythmic form, impossible
to reproduce in English. The following rendition contains nothing which is
not in the original text as explained and amplified by the priest.
The ritual was intoned in a loud voice; the man who was to receive a new
name stood before the priest where he could be seen by the entire assembly.
Harken! 'Twas thus it came to pass:
In ancient days, a Leader and his men
Walked this wide earth, man's vast abode
Roofed by the heavens, where dwell the gods.
They reached a place the spot no man can tell,
Faced dangers dread and vanquished them;
Then, standing as if born anew to life,
Each warrior threw away the name
That had been his ere yet these deeds were done.
Harken! The Leader and his men
Made there the Vict'ry song, and set the mark
Ye must o'ertake, if ye would be like them!
Harken! The Leader and his men
Turned then toward home. Their Vict'ry song
Proclaimed them near; the village rose,
Looked toward the hill, where on the top
Stood the brave men, singing their song,
Heralding thus the favor of the gods
By which they had surpassed all former deeds--
Made new their claim to be accounted men.
Harken! And whence, think ye, was borne
Unto these men courage to dare,
Strength to endure hardship and war?
Mark well my words, as I reveal
How the gods help man's feebleness.
The Leader of these warriors was a man
Given to prayer. Oft he went forth
Seeking a place no one could find.
There would he stand and lift his voice,
Fraught with desire that he might be
Invincible, a bulwark 'gainst all foes
Threat'ning his tribe, causing them fear.
Night-time and day this cry sped on,
Traveling far, seeking to reach--
Harken! Those places far above,
Harken! Within the circle vast
Where sit the gods watching o'er men.
Harken! This poor man's prayer went on,
Speeding afar into the blue
Heavens above, reached there the place--
Harken! Where dwell the lesser gods,
Harken! And great Ti-ra'-wa, mightier than all!
Harken! It was because a god
Received this prayer, considered it,
Favored its plea, and passed it on
To him whose place was next, in that grand ring,
Who in his turn received the prayer,
Considered it, and sent it on--
Harken! Around that circle vast,
Harken! Where sit the gods above.
Harken! And thus it was the prayer
Sent by this man won the consent
Of all the gods. For each god in his place
Speaks out his thought, grants or rejects
Man's suppliant cry, asking for help;
But none can act until the Council grand
Comes to accord, thinks as one mind,
Has but one will all must obey.
Harken! The Council gave consent;
Harken! And great Ti-ra'-wa, mightier than all!
Harken! To make their purpose known,
Succor and aid freely to give,
Heralds were called, called by the Winds.
Then in the West uprose the Clouds
Heavy and black, ladened with storm.
Slowly they climbed, dark'ning the skies,
While close on every side the Thunders marched
On their dread way, till all were come
To where the gods in stately council sat
Waiting for them. Then bade them go
Back to the earth, carrying aid
To him whose prayer had reached their circle vast.
This mandate given, the Thunders turned toward earth,
Taking their course slantwise the sky.
Harken! Another followed hard--
Lightning broke forth out of the cloud,
Zigzag and dart, cleaving their way
Slantwise to earth, their goal to reach.
Harken! For these two were not all
That hastened to proclaim the god's behest--
Swift on their wings Swallows in flocks
Swept in advance, ranging the path,
Black breasts and Red, Yellow and White,
Flying about, clearing the way
For those who bore the message of the gods
Granting the man courage to dare,
Strength to endure, power to stand
Invincible, a bulwark 'gainst all foes.
Harken! 'Twas thus it came to pass:
The Leader grasped the help sent by the gods;
Henceforth he walked steadfast and strong,
Leading his men through dangers drear,
Knowing that naught could strike at him
To whom the gods had promised victory.
Attend! Once more I change his name.
Harken! _Ri-ruts'-ka-tit_ it was
We used to call him by, a name he won
Long days ago, marking an act
Well done by him, but now passed by.
Harken! To-day all men shall say--
Harken! His act has lifted him
Where all his tribe behold a man
Clothed with new fame, strong in new strength
Gained by his deeds, blessed of the gods.
Harken! _Sha-ku'-ru Wa'-ruk-ste_ shall he be called.
TAKING AN INDIAN NAME IN CAMP
In view of the significance of Indian personal names, and the dignity and
reverence which in every instance surrounded the giving or the taking of a
name, it hardly seems appropriate that Indian names should be assumed even
for a short period without some regard being shown to the customs and
thought of the people from whom the names are borrowed. While there should
be no travesty of rites such as those that have been here described, rites
that have been held sacred upon this continent for untold generations,
still it would not be unseemly to hold to the spirit of those rites when we
borrow these names during the camp days in which we seek to live close to
the nature that the Indian loved so reverently and well.
When it is decided among the members of the camp to take an Indian name, on
the day of the ceremony all the camp should assemble early in the morning.
When all have gathered, they should move toward a place where the sun can
be seen when it rises over the lake, the hilltops or the woods. There all
The candidate for the name should not wear any head-band. The boy or girl
should stand well to the front of the group, all of whom should face the
East. The entire company should then join in the following song:
Song No. 1
Skies proclaim a new day! We joyfully meet,
We thankfully greet,
His[A] new name this day shall repeat.
The Leader of the camp must then intone the following:
Hear! O Trees that gird our camp!
Listen, ye Birds that fly through the branches!
Harken, ye rippling waves on Stream and Lake!
Into your midst has come a friend,
He[A] bears a new Name!
Ye shall know him as ---- (name)
[Footnote A: The pronoun should be changed according to the sex of the
The announcement of the name should be distinctly made so as to be clearly
heard by the entire company. The head-band or other camp insignia should
now be officially put on the candidate.
All present should then join in singing the following song, clapping their
hands as beats to the music as they skip back to breakfast and to the
pleasures of the day:
Song No. 2
Homeward we go, calling his[B] name;
New is the name now we proclaim;
No other change in our friend, he[B] is the same!
[Footnote B: Change the pronoun to the proper sex.]
Singing we go, way ha way ho!
Dancing also, way ha way ho!
No one more merry than we, way ha way ho!
The second stanza should be repeated and the steps kept in rhythm until the
dancers finally disperse.
INDIAN NAMES FOR BOYS
All vowels have the Continental sound
The names here presented, for Boys, for Girls and for Camps, have been
chosen out of many because the words are easily pronounced; none of them
have any of the peculiar labial, nasal or guttural sounds common in the
various Indian languages, which are difficult to represent by the letters
of our alphabet and equally difficult for most Americans to pronounce.
1. A-di'-ta Priest Omaha.
2. An'-ge-da From every direction Omaha.
3. De'-mon-thin Talks as he walks Ponca.
4. E-di'-ton Standing as a sacred object Omaha.
5. Ga-he'-ge Chief Omaha.
6. Gu'-da-hi "There he goes!" A coyote Omaha.
7. Ha'-nu-ga-hi Nettle weed Ponca.
8. He'-ba-zhu Little horns Ponca.
9. He'-ga Buzzard Omaha.
10. He'-sha-be Dark antlers Omaha.
11. He'-thon-ton Towering antlers (elk) Omaha.
12. Ho-ho' Fish Omaha.
13. Hon'-ga Imperial eagle Osage.
14. Hu'-ton-ton Roar of thunder Omaha.
15. I'-ku-ha-be He who causes fear Ponca.
16. I-shta'-pe-de Fire eyes (lightning) Ponca.
17. Ka-ge'-zhin-ga Little brother Omaha.
18. Ka-wa'-ha Very old name, meaning lost Omaha.
19. Ka'-wa-sab-be Black horse Osage.
20. Ka'-wa-ska White horse Osage.
21. Ka'-wa-zi Yellow horse Osage.
22. Ke'-ton-ga Great turtle Ponca.
23. Ke'-zhin-ga Little turtle Ponca.
24. Ki'-ko-ton-ga Curlew Omaha.
25. Ki'-mon-hon Facing the wind Omaha.
26. Ki'-wa-go Male buffalo Pawnee.
27. Ku'-ge Sound of the drum Omaha.
28. Ku'-rux Bear Pawnee.
29. Ku'-sox Left hand Pawnee.
30. Le-sha'-ro Chief Pawnee.
31. Mi'-da-in-ga Playful sun Osage.
32. Mi'-ka Raccoon Ponca.
33. Mi'-ka-si Coyote Omaha.
34. Min'-dse Bow Osage.
35. Mon-chu' Bear Omaha.
36. Mon-chu'-pa Bear's head Omaha.
37. Mon-e'-ga-he Arrow chief Ponca.
38. Mon-ge'-zi Yellow breast Omaha.
39. Mon-ka'-ta He of the earth Ponca.
40. Mon'-sa Arrow shaft Osage.
41. Mon'-te-ga New arrows Osage.
42. Ni-ni'-ba Pipe Omaha.
43. Ni'-sho-sho Swallow Omaha.
44. Non-ke'-ne Graceful walker (deer) Omaha.
45. Non'-nun-ge Runner Osage.
46. Non'-pe-wa-the He who is feared Omaha.
47. Nu'-da-hun-ga Captain Omaha.
48. O'-pa Elk Omaha.
49. Pa-he'-ta-pe Seeking the hills Omaha.
50. Pa'-na-hoo Owl Omaha.
51. Pa'-sun American eagle Omaha.
52. Pa-thon' White-headed eagle Omaha.
53. Pe'-de-ga-he Fire chief Omaha.
54. Pe'-num-ba Seven Ponca.
55. Sha-ku'-ru Sun Pawnee.
56. Sha-thu' Sound of the water Ponca.
57. Shon'-ge Wolf Omaha.
58. Shon'-ge-sab-be Black wolf Omaha.
59. Shon'-ge-ska White wolf Ponca.
60. Shon'-ge-zi Yellow wolf Ponca.
61. Shon'-ton-ga Grey wolf Ponca.
62. Sho-sho'-ka Osprey Omaha.
63. Shu'-ka-bi Bunch of clouds Ponca.
64. Ski'-rik Grey wolf Pawnee.
65. Ta-de'-ta To the wind Omaha.
66. Ta-de'-u-mon-thin Walking in the wind Omaha.
67. Te-thon' White buffalo Omaha.
68. The'-ha Soles Omaha.
69. U'-ba-ni Digging in the earth (little creatures) Omaha.
70. U-ga'-e Spread out (herd of buffalo) Omaha.
71. Wa-he'-he Easy to break, fragile Omaha.
72. Wa-ke'-de One who shoots Omaha.
73. Wa-po'-ga Grey owl Omaha.
74. Wa-shis'-ka Shell Omaha.
75. Wash-kon'-hi Power of the thunder Omaha.
76. Wa-sho'-she Brave Omaha.
77. Wa-thu'-he Startles the game Omaha.
78. Wa-zhin'-ska Wisdom Omaha.
79. We'-kush-ton One who gives feast frequently Omaha.
80. Wi'-a-go Feather Dakota.
81. Zha'-be Beaver Omaha.
INDIAN NAMES FOR GIRLS
1. A'-bey Leaf Omaha.
2. A'-bey-tu Green leaf Omaha.
3. A'-bet-zi Yellow leaf Omaha.
4. A'-ka-wi South wind Omaha.
5. A-sin'-ka Youngest daughter Osage.
6. Chon'-ku-sha Robin Dakota.
7. Chon'-wa-pe Leaf Dakota.
8. Chon'-wa-pe-ska Red leaf Dakota.
9. Chon'-wa-pe-tu Green leaf Dakota.
10. Cho-xon'-zhe-da Willow Dakota.
11. Da'-a-bi The visible sun Omaha.
12. Don'-a-ma The sun visible to all Omaha.
13. Ha'-ba-zhu-dse Red corn Osage.
14. Ha'-ba-zi Yellow corn Osage.
15. Ha'-ba-tu Blue corn Osage.
16. Ha'-ba-ska White corn Osage.
17. Hon'-ba-he Dawn Dakota.
18. I-shta'-sa-pa Dark eyes Dakota.
19. I'-ni-a-bi Home builder Omaha.
20. Ka-shi'-a-ka Meadow lark Omaha.
21. Mi'-a-kon-da Sacred moon Omaha.
22. Mi'-gi-na Returning moon Omaha.
23. Mi'-mi-te Standing new moon Omaha.
24. Mi'-na Oldest daughter Osage.
25. Mi'-pe Good moon Omaha.
26. Mi'-ta-in Crescent moon Ponca.
27. Mi'-the-be Shadowy moon Ponca.
28. Mi'-ton-e New moon Omaha.
29. Mi'-wa-thon White moon Omaha.
30. Ni'-da-wi Fairy girl Omaha.
31. Pa'-zi Yellow head (bird) Ponca.
32. Pa'-ha-zi Yellow hair (young animal) Ponca.
33. Raw-ska' Anemone Omaha.
34. Raw-tu' Violet Omaha.
35. Raw-zi' Sunflower Omaha.
36. Ta'-de-win Wind maiden Omaha.
37. Ta'-in New moon Ponca.
38. Ta'-in-ge Coming moon Ponca.
39. Wa-ha'-ba Corn Omaha.
40. Wa-ha'-ba-ska White corn Omaha.
41. Wa-ha'-ba-tu Blue corn Omaha.
42. Wa-ha'-ba-zi Yellow corn Omaha.
43. Wak'-cha Flower Dakota.
44. Wak'-cha-zi Sunflower Dakota.
45. Wa-shu'-dse Wild-rose Omaha.
46. Wa-te'-win Victory woman Omaha.
47. Wa-zhin'-ga Bird Omaha.
48. Wa-zhin'-ga-tu Blue bird Omaha.
49. We'-thon-ki-tha To come together (as in a society) Omaha.
50. We'-ton-a Old name, meaning lost Omaha.
51. We'-ton-be-the One who gives hope Omaha.
52. Wi'-he Younger sister Omaha.
53. Wi'-te-ga New moon Dakota.
54. Zit-ka'-la Bird Dakota.
55. Zit-ka'-la-sha Red bird Dakota.
56. Zit-ka'-la-tu Blue bird Dakota.
57. Zit-ka'-la-zi Yellow bird Dakota.
INDIAN NAMES FOR CAMPS
E'-zhon U-ti A Camp among the Elms.
Hin'-de-hi U-ti A Camp among the Lindens.
Ney'-a-ti A Camp by the Lake.
Tosh'-ka-hi U-ti A Camp among the Oaks.
Wa-shis'-ka A-ti A Camp by the Brook.