Sunday, May 20, 2012

Betting, Sports and Games, or: Little Big War

Diagram of Chunkey yard playing field from William Bartram

Two favorite sports games for hundreds of years were Chunkey and "The Game," or lacrosse, traditionally involving smooth rolling stones, spears, balls or sticks. Some First Nations called these group activities "Little War" or "Little Brother of War." Culturally, the direct links between gaming, gambling, sports and war were explicit rather than hidden under an avalanche of commercials and corporate or nationalistic sponsorships.

George Caitlin (1831-1832): Tchung-kee game

In some ways, we are essentially the same in 2012 as we were in 1812 or 1012 or year 12, only with television and the internet. However, we are different in that much of modern life is probably more fragmented and compartmentalized, less holistic. Is the Nation at war, or only a little piece of the tribe?

Moccasin game: Mille Lacs Reservation (1936)

The Moccasin game is, apparently, not that different from "Battleship." One player or side hides a ball or similar object, the other tries to poke it, discover it, find it out. Each side places a wager. Note the war drum. Evidently, all ages can play.

George Caitlin (1830s): Game player

From now on, golfers must dress like this to keep everyone's attention. Ha! This dude is ready for The Game: stickball, lacrosse or something along those lines.

What would humans be like without games, sports, gambling and war?

Today's Rune: Signals.