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The Thunder Bird Tootooch Legends, by W.L. Webber, [1936], at

p. 19


Among the aborigines of these regions gambling was one of the ruling passions. Although they had dice and throwing games, the most popular was the stick game. Each tribe had its own method of marking the sticks as well as of playing the game. Some were games of chance where luck prevailed; others required skill and the art of self-control.

Their games helped them in many ways to protect themselves from the forces of nature and from their enemies. They developed their powers of observation, trained the eye and hand. All these accomplishments stood them in good stead when attacked by the enemy with spear or club. A quick twist of the body or a movement of the hand or arm enabled them to ward off a fatal blow, thus saving their lives and often overcoming their antagonists as well.

Stick games were played in many ways. One game, "Le-hal", was played with thirty to fifty sticks of bone or wood from four to six inches in length. Each stick was marked with a symbol denoting its value. The players, sometimes as many as twenty, took their positions opposite each other. The sticks were divided among the players who covered them with a blanket, pieces of bark, or grass. A captain was appointed for each side. The player then took two sticks of different values and began to switch them from hand to hand with such lightning speed that it would puzzle the observer as to which hand held the winning stick. This was accompanied by the beating of drums or the rattle of deer's hoofs tied together and a rhythm of song. Oftentimes the spectators would join in the noise, making it harder for the one who was doing the guessing to control his emotions and judge the facial expressions of his opponent. If the stick was guessed rightly, it was then tossed over to the winner. If not, the guesser paid one himself.

There were many other games: dice, made of the curved teeth of the beaver. These were divided with threads of sinew and marked with dots between each strand.

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