“Little Brother of War”
The Cherokee enjoyed games and pastimes that were competitive and strategic. Adult males played games such as the popular the Stick Ball game, to settle disagreements and as an alternative to war. Women were unable to play.
The Cherokee often referred to this game as “Little Brother of War”. Similar to LaCrosse, the Stick Ball game was played using two sticks instead of one. The sticks have a basket net on the end to hold the ball and were made of hickory wood.
The ball is was moved in any way possible to reach the goal.”Seven points are scored when the ball strikes a wooden fish or ball on the top of a pole approximately 28 feet in height, and two points are awarded when the ball strikes the pole.”
The sticks were used as weapons and many times lead to deaths.The players felt this was a minimal sacrifice in lieu of war.It was outlawed in the 1800’s due to its extreme violent nature by the U.S. Government.A less violent game enjoyed by all was “Chunkey”” in which a hoop rolls along the ground and a dart or arrow is strategically thrown throw the moving target.
Marbles were played in tournaments dating back to 800 A.D. Combining skill and strategy, the Cherokee used carved stones as large as billiard balls. Considerably larger than today’s modern version. Played on a 5-hole, L-shaped course that spanned very far apart (at least 10 yards between each hole) on an outside course.The object of this game is to toss the marbles in the holes and follow the entire course returning to the first. Always played with equal partners, marbles built skills needed and utilized in war and battle.
In addition, children were afforded many opportunities to engage in play. They enjoyed in hunting and fishing for fun as well as learning survival techniques. Cherokee children had many carved toys and dolls in which to develop their social skills and to prepare them for responsibilities within the tribe and were valuable tools for the development of their victorious warfare and cultivation of home and family.