Native American Sports & Games
“Native American Life” (series)
Author: Rob Staeger
Publisher: Mason Crest, 2014
Ages: 10-up, Middle Grade
In this edition of the “Native American Life” series, readers learn about the many sports and games that Native Americans enjoyed in the past. Historically, this activity was a favorite pastime, but who actually participated in such or the rules governing and the reason for playing varied from tribe to tribe.
Games and sports often held spiritual significance. They were played to cure diseases, for blessing of crops and giving thanks, and as preparation for war, among other. A popular common ball game was lacrosse, which had a mythological origin and was originally used to teach the men skills needed in battle. Other games were simply played for fun. Types of games included guessing games; ball and dice games; archery; spear throwing; foot and horse races; wrestling; hoop and pole games; boxing; and gambling. The latter activity, gambling, was especially popular, which over time increased as games and sports decreased in spiritual significance.
Games were commonly divided among the sexes. Men and boys rarely played against the women and girls, although there were exceptions. Men and women in the Southwest, for instance, competed against each other in rabbit hunts. Some Native Americans were excluded from games and sports all together. In Central and South America, among the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, only the elite class participated in games, as the poorer working class had little time to play.
Staeger describes games and sports in the American Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Far North, and Southwest regions; and also Central and South America. Chronology, Glossary, Resources and Index are included, as well as plenty of photos and illustrations.
I like that some sports and games are played to this today. Two ball games the author describes reminded me of basketball and soccer, and now I wonder about the origin of those two games. The string game, Cat’s Cradle, was most familiar. It took me back to my girlfriend days on lazy afternoons in my youth. This could be a fun book for students in school.....and for parents and kids looking for something to do on a "lazy afternoon."
Copyright 2014 © Sharon M. Himsl