Native American Traditional Games

Published on September 16, 2012 by Casey

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Paddle ball (badminton)
Paddle ball (badminton)

If you want to learn more about any of the games you see here, try to find the book Games of the North American Indians by Stewart Culin. Thousands of Native American games are described and many have sketches. It was first published in 1902-1903, and later appeared in paperback in 1973 by General Publishing, Ltd., Toronto, Canada.

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There are so many different games which Native American people have enjoyed, it’s helpful to have a list of main categories. Each category has many variations.

Games of chance

  • Dice games
  • Card games
  • Guessing games
  • Stick games
  • Hand games
  • Four-stick game
  • Hidden ball game, or shoe game, moccasin game

Games of skill

  • Ring & dart games
  • Archery
  • Hoop and pole
  • Bows and arrows
  • Spear throws

Ball games

  • Shinny
  • Double ball
  • Foot ball
  • Hand and foot ball
  • Tossed ball
  • Foot-cast ball
  • Ball juggling
  • Hot ball
  • Lacrosse (tewaraathon or baggatataway)

Other games

  • Tipcat
  • Quoits (ring toss)
  • Stone-throwing
  • Shuffleboard
  • Jackstraws
  • Swing
  • Storytelling
  • Play house
  • Tag
  • Hide and seek
  • Stilts
  • Tops
  • Bull Roarer
  • Dolls
  • Buzz
  • Popgun
  • Bean shooter
  • Cat’s cradle
  • Running races
  • Sleds

Source: cradleboard Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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