Hand Games (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Hand games were an important source of entertainment; they were used by shamans to dramatize their magic and by storytellers to illustrate important events
Native Americans played a wide variety of hand games, primarily for entertainment and for developing and displaying skill and dexterity. Hand games were frequently the basis of different games of chance and even gambling, and both genders and all ages participated. Children were encouraged in hand games at an early age, to help them develop hand-eye coordination. The more common hand games were jackstraws, stick games, basket dice, tops, ball juggling, four stick, tip cat, hidden ball/object, pebble games, ring and pin, shell game, whirling game with hemp, dice games, and cat’s cradle.
Shamans used special hand games that involved legerdemain (sleight of hand), to demonstrate the user’s religious power during curing rituals or prophesying. Skilled shamans could make game objects “speak” using ventriloquism, implying that the game had its own power or spirit. These special hand game objects were “fed” and sung to by their owners. Elders and skilled storytellers employed certain hand games to illustrate or dramatize events in creation stories or...
(The entire section is 228 words.)
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