(This is the Learning Episode 3 for Shane Doyle’s teaching unit, “Traditional Native Games Along the Lewis and Clark Trail.”)
Lesson Topic: Traditional Games for High School
Grade Band: Grades 9-12
Length of lesson: Two 50-minute periods
Most traditional games along the Lewis and Clark Trail were tailored for the season. Hand Games were played indoors in the winter, while double ball and Shinny were usually played outdoors in fair weather.
Native peoples along the Lewis and Clark Trail have always enjoyed competition and continue to engage in games in the 21st century.
- What traditional games were played by Native peoples along the Lewis and Clark Trail
- Are Native games still played in tribal communities?
- How can we learn to play Native games in schools?
The Lewis and Clark Trail is a very large region, but all communities along the trail experience the four seasons and have games that fit for each season.
“Honoring Tribal Legacies” is a journey of healing.
Playing tribal games is a journey of healing because it revives the lifeblood and spirit of a competition that once dominated the Lewis and Clark Trail. Sustaining, celebrating, and reviving traditions that bring communities together is a healing endeavor and leaves our hearts and minds happier and healthier.
Depending on the season, which traditional Native game should we play today?
Shinny ball, 12 to 14 hockey/shinny sticks for players, 11 sticks for Hand Game, and a rock for hiding.
Auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tractile.
- Students watch a video about Shinny before they set up the field and play the game themselves. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=native+american+shinny+game&&view=detail&mid=1AE9A057AA6E63D259FC1AE9A057AA6E63D259FC&&FORM=VRDGAR
- Students can acquire the game pieces themselves through gathering them outdoors.
- If the weather is not optimal for Shinny, students can play Stick Game instead.
Students read the quotes from the Lewis and Clark journal about the games the Corps of Discovery encountered.
Sunday 20th of April 1806. a clear cold morning. Capt. Lewis went to tradeing for horses &C. Several of our men went out to hunt their horses but could not find all of them we expect the Indians loosed their Spanil  and took them away expecting a reward to git them again. So we hired the Indians to hunt them. found all except one who the man we bought him of Gambled him away with Some of an other nation & they had taken him away. all the Indians we have Seen play a game & risque all the property they have at different games. the game  that these Savages play is by setting in a circle & have a Small Smooth bone in their hands & Sing crossing their hands to fix it in a hidden manner from the other Side who gass the hand that has it in then counts one a Stick Stuck in the ground for tallies & So on untill one Side or the other wins the propertey Stacked up. this game is played with activity, and they appear merry & peaceable. Capt. Lewis took the property from the man that gambled away our horse. we Sold old Robes Elk Skins &C. &C. for white beeds. these Savages have but little pounded Salmon in their village as they trade it to Several other nations &C. the Indians would not give us any thing worth mentioning for our canoes So we Split & burnt one of them this evening. we tyed up our horses &C. we bought 2 more dogs & Some chappalell &c
February 2, 1806
Sunday, February 2nd 1806.
Not any occurrence today worthy of notice; but all are pleased, that one month of the time which binds us to Fort Clatsop and which seperates us from our friends has now elapsed. one of the games of amusement and wrisk of the Indians of this neighbourhood like that of the Sosones consits in hiding in the hand some small article about the size of a bean; this they throw from one hand to the other with great dexterity accompanying their opperations with a particular song which seems to have been addapted to the game; when the individual who holds the peice has amused himself sufficiently by exchanging it from one hand to the other, he hold out his hands for his compettitors to guess which hand contains the peice; if they hit on the ha[n]d which contains the peice they win the wager otherwise loose. the individual who holds the peice is a kind of banker and plays for the time being against all the others in the room; when he has lost all the property which he has to venture, or thinks proper at any time, he transfers the peice to some other who then also becoms banker. The Sosone and Minnetares &c have a game of a singular kind but those divide themselves in two parties and play for a common wager to which each individual contributes to form the stock of his party. one of them holdes the peice and some one of the opposite party gesses which hand contains if he hits on the ha[n]d which contains it the peice is tranferred to the opposite party and the victor counts one, if he misses the party still retain the peice and score one but the individual transfers the peice to some other of his own party; the game is set to any number they think proper, and like the naives of this quarter they always accompany their opperations with a particular song. the natives here have also another game which consists in bowling some small round peices about the size of Bacgammon men, between two small upright sticks placed a few inches asunder, but the principals of the game I have not learn not understanding their language sufficiently to obtain an explanation. their boys amuse themselves with their bows and arrows as those do of every Indian nation with which I am acquainted. these people are excessively fond of their games of risk and bet freely every species of property of which they are possessed. They have a smal dog which the[y] make usefull only in hunting the Elk. 
Sunday, February 2nd 1806
Not any accurrence to day worthy of notice; but all are pleased, that one month of the time which binds us to fort Clatsop, and which Seperates us from our friends, has now alapsed.
The games of amusements of the natives of this neighbourhood are Several, one of which is verry similar to one which the Sosone’s & Minatare’s are verry fond of and frequently play. they devide themselves into two parties and play for a common wager to which each individual Contributes to form the Stock of his party, one of them holdes the piece which is usually about the Size of a Bean, and Some one of the oposit party gesses which hand Contains, if he hits on the hand which Contains it, the piece is transfired to the opposit party and the victor Counts one, if he misses the party Still retains the piece and scores one, but the individual transfirs the piece to Some one of his own party; the game is Set to any number they think proper. they always accompany their opperations with a particular Song. The amusements of the boys of all nations which I am acquainted with are generally the Bows and arrows.
All nations of Indians with which I am acquainted are excessive fond of their games of risk, and bet away Species of property of which they are possessed.
The nativs of this neighbourhood have a Small Dog which they make usefull only in hunting Elk.