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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Traditional Games To Begin April 25
by Wesley Mahan, Sports Writer - Cherokee Phoenix

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The 2009 Cherokee Nation Traditional Native Games are set to begin across northeast Oklahoma as representatives from local towns and cities compete to earn September playoff spots at the tribe’s annual holiday.

The games competitions consists of horseshoes, Cherokee marbles, blowgun, stickball, corn stalk shoot and hatchet throwing. They are open to the public and begin April 25 at Colcord School.

Kenwood School hosts the games May 23, while Claremore’s games are slated for June 20 at Will Rogers Downs. On July 11 the games move to Sallisaw’s City Park before being held Aug. 1 at the Bell Powwow in Bell.

Winners of the community events will receive T-shirts and invitations to the Sept. 6 playoffs in Tahlequah, west of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex, during the 57th annual Cherokee National Holiday.

Playoff champions will be rewarded with embroidered jackets, while second place finishers get embroidered hooded sweatshirts. Third place finishers will receive embroidered duffle bags.

Lou Slagle, the traditional games coordinator, said he has been spearheading the effort to bring back the games.

“We’ve been going to a different community once a month, to get them (community people) more involved in the games,” he said. “This is also an effort to get more people involved in the holiday.”

Slagle said some steps taken to increase participation includes opening the games to non-Natives and holding them in bigger towns. By holding the games in bigger towns, the tribe hopes people from surrounding smaller communities will participate, driving up entries.

“For example, if we’re in a bigger town like Jay and someone from a surrounding smaller community wins a competition, they can represent their small town, not necessarily Jay,” Slagle said.

One of the more popular games is marbles. Slagle said the game has grown in recent years as several area schools have seen students form marble teams and clubs.

The game is normally played in tournament style with today’s marbles being billiard balls. Participants play on an L-shaped field with five holes about 30 feet apart. The objective of the game is to make the marble in all five holes, then return to the first hole before your opponent.

Another game Cherokees are familiar with is stickball, where men use pouched sticks to pass and shoot a ball. Women are allowed to use their hands. The objective is to strike a post with the ball. The field is generally 100 yards long and has a tall post at each end. Stickball is a full-contact sport and definitely the roughest of the traditional games.

To register or for more information call:
Horseshoe – Jody Reese (918) 822-2428 Cherokee Marbles – Lou Slagle (918) 453-1689
Blowgun – Sharon Dry
(918) 453-5483
Corn Stalk Shoot – Debra Grayson (918) 822-2260
Stickball – Shane Dominick (918) 453-5221 Hatchet Throwing – Pete Vann (918) 822-2260
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