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Entertainment of Native American Tribes

Native American tribes have always been very social.

If they were friendly with other tribes, they would get together to celebrate certain times of the year, to celebrate a marriage, or any special occasion.

They also had competitions between tribes. They held horse races, bow and arrow contests, wrestling competitions, and various games.

Ball Players From The Choctaw And Lakota Tribe

Celebrations

All North American tribes, clans, or bandswere very spiritual and believed in a higher power that controls nature.

That higher power was called many things: Great Spirit, Great Chief, Great Maker, Manitou, among others.

A certain revered person, generally an older male,was believed to have a direct connection to the higher power.

He would lead the tribe members in prayer, song, and dance appealing to the higher power or giving thanks for good fortune.

Kachina Dolls

These songs and dances were quite common among the tribes and were passed down from generation to generation.

Generally, the dances were performed in a circle and accompanied by beating drums, rattles, and chanting.

Grand Entry Omaha

The members would dress up in their finest clothes and headdresses. Masks were also worn to depict a spirit or something in nature.

Sometimes it was just the men who danced and sometimes it was just the women and children. Each dance had its special name, steps, and songs.

The songs could be about a historical event and each had a special meaning.

National Pow Wow Grass Dancer

Some dances had special themes, such as the Rain Dance, Chicken Dance, Sun Dance, Buffalo Dance, and others. If the tribe needed rain that is the dance they would perform.

Likewise, if they wanted animals to hunt for food, they would perform a dance that they hoped would bring game to the area.

Games

Stickball

One traditional game was played with a ball and sticks.  Each tribe had a different name for the game, such as stickball, little war brother, or kabocha.

The ball is passed from player to player using a stick with a small net on one end. The tribesmen played stickball by using a stick with a net on one end to catch and throw the ball from one player to another.

Ball Play Dance

Modern-day Lacrosse is similar. Sometimes it was played just for fun between the home clan men.

At other times, there could be hundreds of men from different tribes on each team and the game could go on for a whole day.

There were no rules and the game could become very brutal with some players suffering serious injury. There was even a game of stickball especially for the women and another for just the children.

Hoop Dancer

Races:

 This was just like our foot races today. Sometimes it was a relay race over many miles.

They made up rules for all kinds of racing competitions, such as obstacle courses and races to test a young man’s stamina.

When the native tribes began to use horses, they would gather together at special times to see who had the fastest horse.

Handball:

This game is also played with two teams. One team would try to hide a bone or a small ball in the fist of one of their players.

If the other team guessed who had the bone or ball, they would gain a point.

Catlin Tchung Kee A Mandan Game Played With A Ring And Pole

QUESTIONS

  1. What was common among the different tribes in their beliefs about nature?
  2. Who led the tribe in prayers, songs, and dances?
  3. Why did the people of the tribe sing and dance?
  4. Name three themes of some of the dances and songs.
  5. What game is like today’s Lacrosse?

George Catlin Ball Play Of The Choctaw Ball Up Google Art Project

ANSWERS

  1. Almost all North American tribes believed in a higher power that controlled everything in nature.
  2. There was one revered member of the tribe who was believed to have direct contact with the higher power and he led the others in prayer, song, and dance.
  3. The people of the tribe were appealing or thanking the higher power for good fortune.
  4. The people danced and sang in honor of the Sun, the Rain, or the Buffalo.

Native Americans

Three Native American Women In Warm Springs Indian Reservation Wasco County Oregon 1902

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