Arctic Games

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 skill.

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 to laugh.

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 today.

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 held.

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.

Haida Games

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 outside.

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.

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