March 23, 2008

Stickball takes off

Tribal stickball game makes a comeback

Shinney will be the main feature at the Native Games Tournament Saturday near AshlandTeams are starting at the University of California at Davis, Portland State University, the Grand Ronde Reservation, among local Unete groups and at the Native American Student Union at Southern Oregon University, says Wahpepah—and some of them will attend this weekend's tournament.

"There's a lot of running, like soccer, but also a lot of full-body contact. Some people do get hurt. We do ask for no cleats because they can hurt. It's very cardiovascular and fun, fun, fun," says Wahpepah.

Modern American Indians are reviving key aspects of shinney's ancient meaning, says Wahpepah. In Indian heritage, games started with a purifying sweat lodge "to get rid of toxins and also things you carry psychologically," he says. Feasting follows games.

"It's just starting to catch on. It's a big hit when we bring it out at powwows. We usually end up giving the powwow committee a set of sticks," says Wahpepah, who makes them along with Basquez.

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