Stickball

_MWM7673_Chikasha_Ittifama_277.JPGChickasaws have a long history of playing the traditional game of stickball. Itti' kapochcha to'li' or stickball, also known as “little brother of war,” has been handed down from generation to generation and was historically played to settle conflicts over land and politics between Native American tribes. Recorded accounts of stickball date back to the early 18th century.

When a dispute arose, elder tribal leaders would meet and decide on a location to play, rather than fight a war. This time-honored game was usually played by men and was thoroughly steeped in ceremonial traditions. Stickball was typically accompanied by all night stomp dancing and singing. Often, before a stickball game, men would paint their faces for battle and fast for a more spiritual experience.

Stickball is played on a field similar to that of a football field, with two poles 100 yards apart. An equal number of people per team hurl a ball made of scrapped deer skin, dampened and filled with a rounded rock, and sewn together with deer sinew, into the air. Players take turns lobbing the ball down the field with ball sticks approximately 2 feet long, with a rounded end, similar to the palm of a hand, weaved with deer skin. Players use stickball sticks to hurl the ball down the field to teammates, who then hit or touch the pole to score points. Make no mistake, this game is a grueling battle of wills.

6V3C8053_CCC_527.jpgThere are three types of stickball games. The first is the social game, played between men and women around a single pole, where men use sticks and women use their hands. The second is the ceremonial east-west game, played only by men. The third is the modern field game, played between men and women, both sexes using sticks, with a specific set of rules and field dimensions as set forth by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Chickasaws still play this game today, whether it is for fun at a festival or celebration, or for competition at games and tournaments. These games are a great way of providing cultural enrichment while keeping stickball alive within the Chickasaw Nation.

The Chickasaw Nation provides stickball playing opportunities for all citizens and the community. The Chickasaw Nation currently has two competitive teams, one for youth, Chikasha Bak Bak and one for the adults, Chikasha Toli.

For more information on the Chickasaw teams, please visit the stickball services page.

Last Updated: 10/26/2015