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Lakota Games and Toys

Traditional games were an essential part of Lakota life before the introduction of European and American non-Native games in the late 19th century. Some games were played only by adults or only by children. Some were for girls, some were for boys.

Games could have social, economic or spiritual significance and many generated humorous stories. All games promoted skills and values important to the Lakota, including competition, sportsmanship and risk-taking.

Games brought people together, stimulated social interaction and strengthened social bonds. They also taught skill, patience, cooperation, while measuring competition and endurance - virtues important to being a good Lakota.

Pop Gun.

Types of games played by boys included:

Games for girls and women include the plum pit game, cunwiyawa; and the game of bowls, icaslohe econpi.

Both girls and boys enjoyed hohukazunta, a sled made of buffalo ribs.

The winged bone game, hutanacute, was traditionally played by men. The front of the rib is inscribed with lineal decorations to distinguish it from others game pieces.

Young cow, pteheste, resembles a large arrow with a wooden shaft. The tip of a buffalo horn is attached to one end; turkey feathers are attached to the other end.

Sling shot.

Informally, all people played catching deer bones with a needle, tasiha unpi, but only women played it in formal competition and for stakes.

It consists of a long pin that's held in one hand and a set of deer bones and beaded loops that are held in the other hand. The player swings the set of bones and beads in the air and then attempts to catch them with the pin.

Standing Bear, Luther: My Indian Boyhood. Linclon, NE. Univerity of Nebraska Press. 1988.
Walker, James R., Sioux Games I. 1905 The Journal of American Folklore 18 (71): 277-290.
Walker, James R., Sioux Games II. 1906 The Journal of American Folklore 19 (72):29-36.


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