On the weekend of August 20-21, the “Battle of Nations Stick Game Tournament” will rage on the Tulalip Tribes reservation in Tulalip, Washington. The tournament will bring more than 100 teams and 3,500 hundred players, family members and spectators from across North America.
According to a Tulalip press release, “stick games, also called bone games, hand games, or slahal, predate recorded history as a traditional form of tribal trade, landholding and social networking.Historical documentation states that games were once played for land use, wives, lodging, and goods such as clothing, horses and cattle – a form of trade and social bonding among Native peoples. Stick Game, Hand Game, Bone Games or Slahal is a Native American guessing game that predates recorded history. Hand Game bones and counting sticks have been identified in ancient anthropological digs. The oral tradition tells us that people originally learned Hand Game from the animal.”
This epic tournament is open to the general public for both watching and playing. On Thursday, August 18, tournament official Andre Picard Jr. will be holding five free public sessions for those who want to learn the game before the tournament begins (often a helpful exercise for those who want to compete). These go from 3 to 8 p.m.
The opening ceremony begins on Saturday, August 20, at noon, with a demo of the stick game to follow.
“The vision of our Tribal leaders, both today and in generations past, has been to preserve and perpetuate our culture,” said Mel Sheldon, Chairman of the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors in a press release. “We sponsor Spee-Bi-Dah, the Salmon Ceremony, the Canoe Journey, Pow Wows and other important events as these carry thousands of years of culture, history, and spirituality. Our culture serves as an anchor for our membership and our youth – a source of identity, pride and permanence for all Native Americans in this modern world,” said Sheldon in the release.
About the Tulalip Tribes:
The Tulalip Tribes of Washington is a federally recognized Indian Tribe and the successors in interest to the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish and other allied Tribes and bands who were signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott. The 22,000 acre Tulalip Indian Reservation is located north of Everett and the Snohomish River, and west of Marysville, Washington.