Native Village 
Youth and Education News

November 1, 2013

A successful First International Native Games Conference in June 2013

Of the times before reservations:

  “We had our societies. Everything in tribes was very structured. The games back then were used as a tool for socializing, for teaching. There were spiritual games for healing and games of competition and gambling. When the reservation period came those things ceased to exist because of federal laws. We couldn’t do this, we couldn’t do that.”   Craig Falcon, Executive Director of the International Traditional Games Society

Montana: Salish Kootenai College and the International Traditional Games Society are helping revive the importance of indigenous games. 

This summer, the two groups hosted a first-time conference that included professors from across the continent.  The meeting focused upon:

Viewing traditional Native games through a number of academic disciplines of Native American Studies

Learning how historic trauma has affected the generations in their ability to survive.

Understanding the neuroscience of joy and play—part of the survival picture for all traditional people. 

In addition to speakers, Jeremy Red Eagle,Sioux, and Alex Alviar, Philippian, lead youth competitions of shinney, doubleball, and lacrosse.  Seth Shields, Assiniboine/Sioux, and Jacob Stalnaker, Blackfeet, helped younger leaders teach Native games played on their own reservations or urban Indian centers.

erspectives on the purpose, impact, and lost value of the Traditional games


“I think encouraging free play amongst kids is an important avenue by which they generate the comfort of discomfort. They can push themselves and really challenge the development of the prefrontal cortex. [Free play] encourages kids to be kids.  It's also important for social development.”  
                                                 Dr. Sergio Pellis, University of Lethbridge


“Children between the ages of three years and eight years must have time for unstructured play with other children in order to develop rich neural connections in the cerebral cortex that will enable them to be skillful, social beings for the rest of their lives.”
                                                                                 Dr. Jaak Panksepp, Washington State University

Native games were the way to develop ‘face’ in the deepest sense of an individual’s growth within the community.  It created the place for strength, cooperation, spiritual connections, and responsibility toward others.”
                                        Dr. Gregory Cajete, University of New Mexico

“The removal of children from their families broke parenting skills, cultural/spiritual ties, and most of all, removed children from healthy play that developed social responsibilities to each other.”
                                                        Dr. Gyda Swaney, University of Montana

“Generations of Native Americans were affected socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically by the historical trauma of war, removal of home place, and separation of families, bands, and clans.  The results are still seen today.” 
                      Dr. Billy Jo Kipp, President of Blackfeet Community College

"The old-time games can be used in any subject area of modern classrooms: math, creative writing, social studies, history, science, P.E. or physics.  Those games fit into the students’ framework of play knowledge and can provide deep understanding in any academic area.” 
                                                        Lamarr Oksasikewiyin, Cree, Saskatchewan


“Games were played for many reasons including building the skills necessary for survival, for entertainment, and for celebration after a successful hunt. There is comradery between all who coached and helped each other. You couldn’t survive traditionally without the help of other people in your village.”  
                           Nicole Johnson, Chair of the Board for the World Eskimo Indian Olympics

"Torgue, transitional motion, impulse, momentum, horizontal range, and other physics concepts can be taught through guli danda. They see and play the game. They have an image of the action. Then they learn the concept."
                           Surish Joshi, India, guli danda, an ancient game of India, in teaching physics lessons
“Montana was the first state to have support for 'Indian Education for All,' mandated by the state constitution and supported by state policy.  We have all grown in our knowledge of each other’s history and culture.”  
                 Lynn Hinch and Jennifer Stadum of Montana’s O.P.I’s Indian Education Department

“These games were so important to learning the old ways about nature, people, and spirit.  Children learned to observe from the games." 
                                                            Arleen Adams, Salish

Native Village Home Page

Native Village © Gina Boltz
To receive email notices of Native Village updates, please send your email address to:
To contact us, email


Thank you to ALL the wonderful individuals,  friends, organizations, groups, news services and websites who share or donate their research, work, time and talents to make Native Village possible
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research, archival, news, and educational purposes only.
NATIVE VILLAGE website was created for youth, educators, families, and friends who wish to celebrate the rich, diverse cultures of The Americas' First Peoples. We offer readers two monthly publications: NATIVE VILLAGE Youth and Education News and NATIVE VILLAGE Opportunities and Websites.  Each issue shares today's happenings in Indian country. NATIVE VILLAGE also houses website libraries and informational materials to enrich all lives on Turtle Island.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written in full by the credited author at the credited source link. We are responsible for format changes and additional photos, art, and graphics which boost visual appeal and add dimension to the reading experience. Pictures and graphics not appearing with the original article are either credited on the page or by right-clicking the picture. Some may be free or by sources unknown.
Please contact us with any copyright corrections so we may properly credit the source.
 We are not responsible for changes to outside websites and weblinks. Please notify us if any problems arise.