Games of the North American Indian, Volume 2


Games of the North American Indian, Volume 2

Games of Skill

Stewart Culin

490 pages


November 1992


$28.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Games figured prominently in the myths of North American Indian tribes, and also in their ceremonies for bringing rain and fertility and combating misfortune. In his classic study, originally published in 1907 as a report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Stewart Culin divided the games played by Indian men and women into two general types.

Volume 1 of this Bison Books edition takes up games of chance, involving guessing and throwing dice. Culin was able to show that the games of North American tribes were remarkably similar in method and purpose. He found that games using dice of various materials—wood, cane, bone, animal teeth, fruit stones—existed among 130 tribes belonging to 30 linguistic groups. The games are described in detail in this volume, and so are the popular guessing games drawing on sticks and wooden disks and involving hidden objects.

Volume 2 is just as absorbing in its elaboration of skills like archery and games like snow-snake, in which darts or javelins were hurled over snow or ice. Played throughout the continent north of Mexico were the hoop and pole game and its miniature, solitaire form called ring and pin, here illustrated. With equal authority Culin discusses ball games: racket, shinny, football, and hot ball. He includes accounts of "minor amusements": shuttlecock, tipcat, quoits, popgun, bean shooter, and cat's cradle.

Originally published in 1907, Stewart Culin's comprehensive work reveals a side of American Indian culture still only rarely shown. An experienced observer, Culin was curator of ethnology at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and the author of books about games in other cultures.

Author Bio

Dennis Tedlock, in an eloquent introduction, discusses his own experience of Indian games, showing that those described by Culin are still played today. A professor of English at State University of New York at Buffalo, Tedlock is the translator of Finding the Center: Narrative Poetry of the Zuni Indians, also a Bison Book.

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