North American Indian & Canadian First Nation Games

North American Indian

Within the Museum collection are a number of objects used for games played in the past by aboriginal groups in North America. Unlike the Museum collection of Inuit game equipment (which primarily consists of animal bone and leather objects), North American and Canadian First Nation game equipment in the collection are modified copies or manufactured copies of the types of game equipment that were used in the past.

In his landmark 846 page book "Games Of North American Indians", Stewart Culin documents and describes hundreds of these games, indicating through text and drawings the type of equipment required for each game and the specific tribes or groups which played each game. (Note: That while this book was first published by the United States Government Printing Office in 1907, a reprint edition was made available by Dover Publications in 1975.) Categories of games he identifies are: Chance - dice games and guessing games; games of dexterity and ball games; and a host of what he calls "minor amusements". Culin includes information about game playing in Canada, the United States, as well as areas in Central America.

In an 1897 paper (click in the left menu above) he discusses some of the similarities found in the games played in all three geographic areas.

Click on any of the following links to be taken to a page concerning the games in the collection:

Chippewa Bilboquet

Pommawonga (Ring and Pin game)

Slahal (Northwest Coast gambling game)

Snowsnake (Winter game)

Last update June 28, 2010