Mike Marshall, a Native American artist and historian from the Rosebud Reservation, recently shared traditional Lakota games with Lakota Sioux children at St. Joseph's Indian School. Students learned to pronounce the Lakota names for the games they played. Marshall also shared each games origins.
“All the pieces needed for these games were made from buffalo parts or items found around creeks and rivers,” Marshall said, showing the students a piece of buffalo rib bone with a feather attached to one end. “Players had to use things that were available to them on the open plains.”
“Games were often played in the winter, when camp was settled,” he said.
Many traditional games, like paslohanpi (sliding a stick on ice) and napeoglece kutepi (throwing a willow spear) were played on ice or hard-packed snow.
Games were also used to teach life skills that young boys and girls would need as adults. As a result, there were games played only by each gender.
“Girls would often play house, for example,” said Marshall. “They needed to know how to set up camp and take things down when it was time to move, they learned by playing. Boys played games that simulated a hunt.”
Learning about their Lakota culture from respected elders like Mike Marshall helps the Native American children in such great need, gain the confidence, respect and hope required to overcome great challenges.