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Native American Sports Night

Sometimes when you look back across the the many different and sometimes alien cultures of the past, it’s easy to forget that no matter how strange their beliefs or ways of life may seem we will always have one thing in common, we all like to take a break from the stresses of life and have some fun. Most of what we see of history usually revolves around work, war and survival but fun and games have always been an integral part of society and this was certainly true in the world of the Native Americans. The Native Americans had many of their own sports, some well known, others not so much, so let’s have a look at a few of these games.


The most well known of these Native American sports was Lacrosse, a game that is still played all over the world. This game was perhaps most popular amongst the Great Lakes tribes along the Western Coast of North America, though it was played by tribes in the South and the East too. It was most commonly played with a ball made from either wood or buckskin which would be caught using curved rackets with nets attached to the end of them. The game was played in honour of ‘the Creator’ and was known simply as ‘The Creators Game’. Some games were far more extreme than that we know now, for example in the traditional aboriginal Canadian game the field would stretch from anywhere between 500m and 3km and could have from 100 to 1000 people on playing. These games could last for an impressive 3 days with men playing from dawn till dusk. Now that’s what I call dedicated sportsmen.

Hoop and Pole

Another common game among the tribes of America was hoop and pole. This is far simpler than the huge scale of the lacrosse games, in fact hoop and pole was only played by two people at a time. Simply put the game consists of a small hoop, anywhere between 3 inches and 1 foot in diameter, that would be rolled across a 30 foot patch of land, in which the grass is removed and the ground flattened. Poles were then thrown at the hoop in order to knock them over and score points. The first to a hundred was common practise though that would be up to the player.


Shinny was also a popular game amongst the Native Americans, interestingly this game was usually played only by women, though there were many cases where both men and women played. Shinny is a game that’s very similar to field hockey, sticks that were curved at one end were used to hit a ball or sometimes small bag made from buckskin. Much like it’s modern equivalent the aim of the game is to hit the ball into the opposing team’s goals. Once again some games were taken to extremes with some pitches being set up at a mile long, I guess it’s good exercise if nothing else.

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