Indigenous North American Stickball

Indigenous North American Stickball Explained

Every country has its traditional native sports and games, so in this article, we will explain all about America’s most famous native traditional sport, Indigenous North American Stickball. In short, it is called a stick ball.

Indigenous North American Stickball Overview

Indigenous North American Stickball is basically a team sport game in which players hold two sticks and everyone tries to control and shoot a ball at the opposite side of the opposing team’s goal. This game is a bit dangerous, but everyone enjoys it, and we know there is no life without risks, so they continue to play it, and with time, it has become popular.

It is similar to the lacrosse game, but both are different.

Tribal Participation

Many other native American tribes, such as Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Yuchi, started to play this sport, and their elder tribes organized this a Peaceful Sport.

Fact about Stick Ball

  •  Stickball’s recorded history begins in the mid-18th century.
  •  Evidence suggests that stickball may have existed and been played long before written records were kept.

Indigenous North American Stickball History

This game varies in every century, and these are details of his growth:

Traditional stickball games were significant multi-day events involving 100 to 1,000 players from opposing villages or tribes. These games were played in open plains with goals ranging from 500 yards to several miles apart.

Stickball Starting point

The game starts, the ball swings into the air, and both sides rush to get it. This game includes many players, so there are more chances of getting injured. That’s why they need to play slowly and carefully. Players pass the ball using their tricks and hacks because there is a huge crowd there, so it will be hard to dodge an opponent. Medicine men act as helpers, and the women of the tribes are limited, so they bet and cheer on the sidelines.

The Role of Stickball in Tribal Relations and Warrior Training

The traditional games played a very important role to make friendly and peaceful relationship between tribes that played it. These games are not just made for the good relationship between tribes but also very good and valuable for the players who play them because this makes players tough warriors for combat, for taking part in festivals, and for betting involvement. 

Before starting the game, there are some terms on which both tribes agree, and after losing a game, the losing tribe has no choice but to accept the outcomes. Sometimes, the tribe does not accept the terms, and the game ends in battle. 

The Evolution of Stickball into Modern Lacrosse: A Historical Journey

  • During the 17th century, Jesuit missionary  – Jean de Brébeuf wrote about a Native American game he found violent, but English colonists later embraced and played it.
  • In 1763, the Ottawa tribe used stickball to get entrance into Fort Mackinac. The chief of Ottawa’s Tribe, Chief Pontiac, invited soldiers to the fort to watch this game of honor at the king’s birthday. The soldiers and the king enjoy this sport at the festival, which is a good reason to move close to Fort Mackinac.
  • In 1834, the Caughnawaga Indians gave someone ideas of stickball in Montreal, Canada; many Canadian peoples took an interest in the game.
  • In 1856, William George Beers codified the Native American game into advanced lacrosse.
Jim Tubby, Mississippi Choctaw, was prepared for a stickball game in 1908.

Stickball experienced a revival in the southern region of North America during the mid-to-late-20th century while becoming a popular street game in the northeastern United States.

Tribal teams

This sport is too old, but the sport played today is similar to the historical version of this sport.

Stickball match arrange at Cherokee National event, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 2007.

Stickball, much like the game of tribal ancestors, is experiencing a resurgence, bringing tribal communities together in the southern states with increasing participation in tribal festivals and tournaments, including prominent the World Series was hosted by the Mississippi band of Choctaws.

Points are considering scored by hitting the pole with the ball and game sticks while holding the ball or running through the poles with the ball. In recreational games, scoring is mostly kept by the audience or a few players.

Lacrosse games historically commence with a jump ball at the center of the field. Groups of players from each team run, fight, and try to get the ball. Players use sticks to launch the ball towards their goal. The initial moments of the game are described as chaotic, with players “rolling and tumbling over each other in the dust.” Points are earned by hitting the pole with the ball or using game sticks while holding the ball. Scoring in recreational games is typically tracked by the audience or a few players.

In stickball games, it is not strange to see women playing. Female players are the ones who are not required to use any sticks and are allowed to pick up the ball with their own hands. On the other hand, men always needed a pair of stickball sticks to play on the field. Teams are mainly separated into men vs women for social sports games. The men act aggressively and disrespectfully towards women players; they would suffer some penalty or disqualification. But women are free from these restrictions.

Pre-game rituals

Pre-game rituals resembled war rituals. Tribal ball dances are held the night before the game. It includes dance, magical rituals and spiritual songs. They were accepted to bring great luck to the group. Players donned ceremonial regalia. Make a sacrifice. Divine guidance is used to intimidate opponents.

Pre-Game Mystic Rite

The medicine man conducted rituals to prepare players and their sticks for tribal games. A mystic rite called “going to the water” was performed by the shaman. During the mystic rite, the shaman blessed the game, and players received ritualistic scratches. These scratches were believed to make the blood flow more freely during the game. Winning the game means they will resolve disputes with other tribes or communities.

Pre-Game Rituals and Taboos

  • 🎨 Using charcoal and paint, they decorated their bodies, which thing a tradition on that time.
  • 🏒 They adorned their sticks or stick racks with objects symbolizing desired qualities for the game.
  • 🚫 Strict taboos were observed regarding pre-game food consumption.
  • 🍽️ Players fasted and refrained from eating specific foods, believing that it would improve their performance.
  • 💪 The goal was to make people healthy and mentally fit so they could offer their best to our team during the match.

Game Day Rituals and Wagers

Every team member came to the field at a slow speed on game day by constant ritual. Before the game, each player needs to place a wager. Player items like handkerchiefs, knives, horses, and wives and children would be at stake. The bet would be shown on a rack near the audience, and items would be awarded to the winner of each quarter. When the game closes, the ceremonial dance takes place, and at that time, players eat food because they look tired and hungry.

1892 Stickball Match: Tulsa and Theowalthioa Indians

In 1892, during the summer season, we were near Keokuk Falls on the North Canadian River. We learned that in Indigenous North American, stickball was to be played between Tulsa and the Theowalthioa  Indians, so we waited and saw their preparation and training. The two tribes came in three days before the game, which seemed almost like a battle. One tribe camped directly at south direction to the other with a strip. This camp was strictly guarded by Brave Indians. They is no way to between both tribes to some close but they would bark at one another whole day and night. The Braves which take part in game ready themselves by a special medicine, which known as Spanish Tea. This tea was made bark of red-oak trees. They eat less and try to make his self-angry and because this thing will help in during game.

Red-oak tree at AutumnSource of Spanish Tea

When the time of the game started, then squaws were brought out to the ground, and ponies loaded everything that the Indians at that time could get. There were blankets, food beads, etc. Their blankets, foods, beads and other things were use as bets on the game.  Many white men would also bet on the game. A huge crowd was present during that event. When the game started, it was very exciting to see how the Braves controlled the ball with their own-made equipment, but suddenly a player was knocked out; the squaws carried him and took him off the field due to his ear injury, so they moved him to the pool, where he washed his wound and tried to restore him to consciousness. When the game ended, one side had been chased from the ground, and the pool looked fully bloody.

The end of Era

This was the last game that Indian players played. The playing method was brutal and disrespectful, so the government took notice of such brutality and sent this game to prevent people from playing such a cruel and dangerous game.

Equipment’s use in Indigenous North American Stickball Game

Stickball, a traditional Native American game, is played with one or two wooden sticks made from hardwood-like hickory, with variations depending on the tribe. A stick with a looped end is created by bending wood and attaching it to a handle, then binding it with leather or electrical tape. Leather strips are stretched across the loop’s back to create netting for catching and holding a ball.

Indigenous Stickball sticks made of

Indigenous stickball players adorned their sticks with animal hair for desired qualities, had intricate carvings, and cherished them to the extent of requesting burial alongside.

Choctaw Stickball Sticks

Indigenous Stickball made of

Stickball balls were handmade with tightly wadded cloth, leather strips, or wood, often measuring three inches in diameter.

Indigenous Stickball

Contemporary Impact

Indigenous North American Stickball have contemporary impact in different ways:

Cultural Preservation

Stickball plays an important role in preserving and celebrating the cultural events and identity of Native American Tribes. This game links us with old tribes.

Community Building

Stickball make faster and strong community along with Native American peoples. It helps people to make a friendly relationship with other native and trivial areas living peoples.

Economic Impact

When this type of cultural event is held, people from other countries come as visitors to those native lands, and these native areas’ economies become stable. This type of game increases the chances of tourism and visitors coming to a selected place.

Education and Awareness

Stickball raises awareness about Native American Cultures and traditions. It serves as educational tool for on educated native American peoples for communication and understanding other matters precisely.

Celebrating Indigenous North American Stickball

In celebration of US Local American Legacy Month, today’s Doodle celebrates the Inborn North American Stickball, a ceremonial wear concocted by local American tribes. The craftsmanship was laid out by Heavenly Individual Paul-based skilled worker Marlena Myles, a part of the Soul Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee tribe. Stickball could be an ordinary local American game played with sticks and a net, where groups score by hitting their opponent’s goalpost and not utilizing their hands.


These are some frequently asked questions peoples ask about Indigenous North American Stickball are below:

Why did Native Americans play stickball?

Native American peoples play stickball to settle problems and conflicts about politics and land-related issues without solving them with fights and battles. They play stickball, and this helps them to resolve things peacefully.

What are Native American stick games?

“Handgame,” also known as stick games, is a Native American guessing game. In this game, players guess another team’s location using marked “bones” concealed in the hands of one team.

How does stickball differ from modern sports like lacrosse? 

Both games have same stickball lacrosse consisting sticks and a ball. Stick ball played and large field and have different rules depend on the place and with the people you are playing with.

Is stickball still played by Indigenous native American communities today? 

Yes, many indigenous people still play this game like in old times because it is also a source of enjoyment and also settles conflicts like in ancient times today.


I hope you enjoy this article and I tried my best to explain everything about “Indigenous North American Stickball” so feel free ask anything about us.

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