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  October 24, 2014
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Home > Social Studies > Native Americans > Games for Teachers > Hazard Games > About

About Native American Hazard GamesAbout Hazard Games

The objects which are thrown or tossed in games of hazard Dr. Culin, for convenience, has designated as "dice" and he calls the games "dice games." He found these games among one hundred and thirty tribes belonging to thirty different linguistic stocks. Throughout this wide distribution the "dice" are not only of different forms but are made from a variety of materials: split-cane; wooden or bone staves or blocks; pottery; beaver or muskrat teeth; walnut shells; persimmon, peach or plum stones. All the "dice" of whatever kind have the two sides different in color, in marking, or in both. Those of the smaller type are tossed in a basket or bowl. Those that are like long sticks, similar to arrow shafts, from which they are primarily derived, were thrown by hand. Myths of the Pueblo tribes speak of the game, in which "dice" shaped like a shaft were used, as being played by the War Gods. The split-cane "dice" were "sacrificed" on the altar sacred to the Gods of War. In this connection it is interesting to find evidence that the "dice game" of hazard was associated with the thought of war among tribes very different, both in language and customs, from the Pueblo Indians. Among the tribes living on the prairies the word used to indicate a "point" made in a "dice game" is derived from the same root as the word used to indicate an honor won on the field of battle.

Two examples of the class of games called "dice games" are here given: the first a Pueblo game played almost exclusively by men - The Pa-tol Stick Game; the second a game found among the Omaha and kindred tribes and almost exclusively played by women - The Plum Stone Game .

 

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