The Inuit had many different games that they played inside and outside their
igloos. Because igloos did not have a lot of space inside to move around,
the Inuit invented games that could be played in small spaces. Many of these
games were tests of strength. The Inuit needed to keep up their strength.
They were confined to a small space for several days at a time due to stormy
weather outside. All of these games required patience, determination, and
String Games like Cat's Cradle – Someone would take
a long piece of string and tie the two ends together to make a big loop. They
would then loop the string around their fingers to make different patterns
without getting it in a knot. Each pattern accompanies part of a story that
is being told to the person watching.
Throat Singing – The purpose of this game is to outlast
your opponent. Two people stand facing each other. While they look at each
other they hum, or sing in their throats. They do this until one person starts
Cup and pin – This game requires a peg or pin that
is attached to a cup. The object of this game is to flip the cup onto the
pin. Some of the cups are solid with two or three holes drilled into the base
of it. The player then has to get the pin into one of the holes or into each
of the holes in a certain order.
One Foot High Kick – The object of this game is to
hit a target that is hanging above the ground with your foot. The player can
either get a running start or start in a standing position. The player then
kicks up with one foot and tries to make contact with the target. The player
must then land on one foot, the foot that kicked the target. For this game
you need strong leg muscles for jumping and balancing.
Two Foot High Kick – The object of this game is to
hit a target that is hanging above the ground with both feet. As in One Foot
High Kick, the player can either get a running start or can start in a standing
position. In Two Foot High Kick the player kicks the target with both feet
at the same time and then lands on two feet. The player's feet must be held
together the entire time. For this one you need really strong stomach muscles
to lift up both legs and good leg muscles for jumping.
Airplane – This is not the same game of airplane that
some kids are familiar with. In this game one person is not held by their
ankles or under their arms and swung around until they are dizzy! This game
involves four people. The player lies on the ground with his/her feet together
and arms straight out to the side. The player has to make his/her body very
stiff. One person takes the player by the feet and two people take the player's
arms. They lift the player off the ground and walk around a course.
Kickball Games – These games involve kicking a hide
covered ball. One of these games is similar to the game of hackeysack. The
Inuit hit the small hide-covered ball with their feet. The object is to keep
the ball from hitting the ground for as long as possible. This game could
be played inside or outside.
Snow Snake – The Inuit take a stick and slide it across
the snow as far as it will go. The one who slides his/her stick the furthest
wins. This game was adapted from the Eastern Woodlands region.
Sledge Jump – A course is set up where the player
has to jump with both feet over a series of obstacles called sledges. The
player goes back and forth over the course as many times as he/she can without
stumbling or stopping. The player who jumps over the most sledges wins.
The Huron lived in an environment where the weather did not play as big a
role as the weather in the Arctic. Also, they had a lot more space available
to them inside their houses than the Inuit did.
Stickball or Lacrosse – This game is played in teams.
The players use a hide-covered or wooden ball and a stick that has a type
of net on one end. The object is to throw the ball through the other team's
goal. Lacrosse is one of Canada's national sports and is played all over Canada
Chunkey - In this game a smooth round stone is rolled
along the ground. While it is rolling the players try to throw sticks where
they think it will stop. The one who gets the closest wins.
Dish Game - To play the dish game you need a bowl.
The Huron used a wooden or strong stone bowl. You also need five or six flat
stones. The Huron used fruit pits or pieces of pottery. For each of these
stones, paint one side black and one side white. The Iroquois would then hit
the bottom of the bowl on the ground to make the stones jump. The goal is
to get all the stones to land with the same colour facing up. Some people
did not use a bowl, they held the stones in their hands and dropped them on
a hide cloth.
Aescara – In this game, one person would hold in his/her
hand about several hundred reeds. Another person would grab a handful of reeds
and, without counting his own, would guess how many the other player still
Straws – This Huron game involved dropping a handful
of twigs on the ground. Keep in mind they had to be the same length. One of
the players would pick up some of the twigs without looking. A point was gained
for grabbing an odd number of sticks.
Hoop and Corn Cob – The Huron made corn cobs into
game pieces by attaching feathers to the top of them. They would then throw
these into a hoop that was placed on the ground some distance away. This game
could be where the modern game of lawn darts came from.
Snow Snake – In the winter, people carved special
sticks and polished them so they would go fast and far. They would take their
stick and slide it over the snow to see how far they could get it to go.
The Haida were similar to the Huron, in that they had a lot more space inside
their houses than the Inuit. They also had a milder climate. They did have
to deal with a lot of rain, but in general the winters were not as cold or
as long as Eastern Canada or the Arctic. They were able to enjoy more time
Hoop and Pole – The players of this game would roll
a hoop along the ground and, as it was rolling, try to throw sticks through
the center of the hoop. You could try this game using a hula hoop and some
sticks. Make sure that there is no one on the other side of the hoop that
you are trying to throw the sticks through.
Shinny – This game is like our modern game of field
hockey. The players would use long sticks with a hook on the bottom to hit
a wooden ball into the other team's goal.
Lahal – Lahal was a game played with two bones that
were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. One of the bones was painted
white and the other was white with a stripe around the center of it. Someone
would hold both bones, one in each hand, and shuffle them back and forth.
The object of the game was to guess which hand the white bone was in. Each
time the player guessed right he or she would get a point. If the player guessed
wrong then he or she would lose a point. To win the game the player had to
get six points.