- from Native America
For Native Americans, play is serious business.
Games and sports are often played in a sacred way. They benefit the whole tribe that way. A game might be played to honor the dead or to gain favor with spirits. It might be played to heal illnesses, to improve the weather, or to change a situation.
In the past, games helped train players to hunt and wage war. Games also made a tribe’s social ties stronger. Anyone could play, and most games focused on the value of teamwork.
Native American games fall into two main categories: games of chance and games of skill. Gambling was a key element of games of chance. Gambling didn’t take away from the spiritual nature of the game. It actually boosted a game’s sacred purpose. According to an Iroquois teaching, the purpose of a game of chance is to remind players that the things around them do not belong to them. They belong to the world. Playing a game and taking the chance of losing your possessions sends a message to the Creator that you are grateful for the use of these things and willing to share with others. Despite their spiritual and social importance, games are also fun. Let’s join Native Americans at play.