The history of the Hand Game

Be a part of the Native American Hand Games tradition

Each tribe has various stories about how Hand Games originated that go back many centuries. One of the Northern Cheyenne versions is from a time when there were many battles and loss of life which created much sadness over the people. One day an old woman and her granddaughter living in the area began hearing strange noises outside, so they followed them and came upon some animals playing the Hand Game. The animals taught the old woman and her granddaughter how to play and sing so their people wouldn’t be so sad. Because the game was fun to play, it was said to heal the soul.

Introduce your kids to the rich tradition of Native American games

The game is something that many tribes enjoy even today. In the Crow tradition, at times the stakes could go as high as winning horses or lodges. This, like all things in life, is seen as a spiritual matter. Since one cannot win without the help of spiritual power, a medicine man is usually involved.
While the actual origin of the game is unknown, a variation of the game played by the Northern Cheyenne is based on two teams taking turns hiding elk teeth, sticks or bones in their hands. The object of the game is to collect scoring sticks by not allowing the opposing team to guess in which hand these objects are hidden. To aid in the hiding and add to confusion, the hiding team sings songs loudly accompanied by hand drums, rattles and hand motions. This is a fun game, where even side betting among the spectators is encouraged. Everyone attending has a vested interest in the outcome!
You can download this game and start being a part of rich Native American culture today!