Native American Games And Sports

 Native American ball games often involved hundreds of players
Native American ball games often involved hundreds of players

Native American Games

Native Americans played games as part of tribal ceremonies and also to teach skills to children through these games. Games were played ceremoniously to bring luck like rain, good harvests, drive away evil spirits, or just bring people together for a common purpose. Boys and girls played separately. Native Americans appreciated the skill, talent, and discipline. Girls learned about childcare while games for boys and were aimed at helping them learn about warfare and hunting. The games were either a game of chance or games of skill. Chance involved luck while skill games involved physical and mental abilities. At the end of the day, enjoyment was crucial so was learning. Winners were rewarded, and admired.


Lacrosse was and still is a famous game in America. Highly popular among the Native American games, lacrosse involved passing a ball using sticks with nets attached at the end. The game was popular that it could last from dusk to dawn. Apart from entertainment, the game was at times used to toughen young warriors and also settle disputes among tribes. The brutality of play could cause injury to the players.

The Bowl Game

This game was a favorite among the Iroquois, especially during the Midwinter Festival. The game involved six white balls on one side and black on the other white along with a wooden bowl. With the nuts inside the bowl, the player would hit the bowl against the ground. If at least 5 of the balls ended up the same color, that particular earned a point. It was a game of chance. Played to teach the players that it is good to work and struggle to achieve your dream.

Ring The Stick Game

The ring the stick game is one of the most popular Native American games played by children. Children tied a string at the end of the stick, and a ring on the end of the string. The player would toss the ring in the air and try catching it with the sharp side of the stick. The game was important in teaching children about the importance of having a goal, or a dream, and the importance of hand-eye coordination.

The Butterfly Hide And Seek

The game was a very quite game played by little girls. A girl would close her eyes and sing "Butterfly, butterfly, show me where to go." The rest would hide quickly but quietly. The singer then had to seek the others girls without another word. It was a game of skill, and the skilled girl could identify the hiding place by following the marks left by those in concealment.

The Moccasin Game

The game was a very noisy game played only with permission from elders. Two teams played the game finders and keepers. All was needed were four moccasins, a pebble, and a stick. The singer sang to jeer the other team; the keeper hid one pebble in one of the moccasins, and the finder was to find the stone. This game was used to teach children on the team playing.

Sep Game

Sep was the "fall asleep game." It was used to make children sleep after a busy day. Someone would sing a song with funny phrases and without warning stop singing and say "sep" everyone had to be silent until someone picked up the song. The kids that kept quiet and slept would be rewarded the next day. It was a disciplined game.

The Snow Snakes Game

Played in the winter when village men returned from the annual hunt, the snow snakes game . Village played against each other. It was a skill game and a team sport. Each player had a snake like curved wood. The playing teams would then pull a log through the snow to form a trough. The objective of the game was to throw your snake as fast and far as possible to win points for your team. The best score was the winner.

The Hand Game

Two teams played the game. One team passed around a small ball or bone quickly. The opposing team would try to guess who on the other team had the item. A correct guess was rewarded by earning a point. Then the game switched to the other team. It was a game of skill.

The Double Ball Game

It involved 2 or 3 opposing teams and the goals almost a mile apart. These games provided women with a chance to prove their strength and agility. From stick to stick the double ball was passed up to the goal post. Women and girls played the game. The strongest woman was admired and achieved high status.


The game involved throwing disk-shaped stones across the ground. A spear was thrown at the stones to attempt targeting the spear to land as near to the stopped stone as possible. The game involved many people in a huge arena. It was specifically designed to bring people together.


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