Indian Games, Dances & Native Songs - online book

Native American Ceremonials, Sports, and Songs with Sheet Music, Lyrics & Commentary

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64               INDIAN GAMES AND DANCES
from all parts of the earth; so it happens that man's games, which often sportively reflect his serious thoughts, show a strange similarity.
Indian games that depend upon chance, according to Dr. Culin, may be divided "into those in which the hazard depends upon the random fall of certain imple­ments employed, like dice, and those in which it depends upon the guess or choice of the player; one is objective, the other subjective." Games of the first or objective class are generally played in silence, while those of the second or subjective class, called guessing games, are accompanied by singing. {Ibid., p. 44.)
In a game where the two sides contest, as in a ball game, the sides were frequently played by two different tribes or by two villages in the same tribe. In such cases the players often went through a course of train­ing in order to prepare them for the contest. Bathing, exercise and diet had to be followed according to pre­scribed custom. Among the Cherokee the partaking of rabbit was forbidden, because the animal is "timid, easily alarmed and liable to lose its wits "; so if the player ate of this dish, he might become infected with like character­istics. Mystic rites were sometimes performed to prepare the player so that he would be successful. {Ibid., p. 575.)
According to the Indian belief, the pleasure of games was not restricted to mankind but was enjoyed by birds and animals. The following story from the Cher­okee is told by Mr. James Mooney and quoted by Dr. Culin {Ibid., pp. 578, 579):
"The animals once challenged the birds to a great ^all play. The wager was accepted, the preliminaries
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