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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Winter games, Ojibwe style

Jodi Summit
Posted 1/21/20

VERMILION RESERVATION- Excited voices echoed across the snowy landscape last Sunday as both young and old gathered here for the “Winter Indigenous Games.”  Led by ISD 706 Indian Ed …

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Winter games, Ojibwe style

Area children and adults learned a variety of outdoor activities last Sunday at the Winter Indigenous Games held on the Vermilion Reservation.
Area children and adults learned a variety of outdoor activities last Sunday at the Winter Indigenous Games held on the Vermilion Reservation.
J. Summit
Posted

VERMILION RESERVATION- Excited voices echoed across the snowy landscape last Sunday as both young and old gathered here for the “Winter Indigenous Games.” 
Led by ISD 706 Indian Ed Director Teresa Knife Chief and other adult volunteers from both Bois Forte and the Virginia Schools Indian Education Program, children and adults alike learned a variety of outdoor games that were traditionally played during the winter months.
Children got to hone their arrow-throwing skills during Hoops and Arrows, a game that simulated hunting for rabbit, as children aimed their “arrows” into a hoop that was rolled in front of them. When the participants got the hang of aiming at the larger hoop, a smaller hoop took its place, make the game even more challenging.
Afterward, the group split into two teams for a spirited game of lacrosse.
Lacrosse is played with a stick with a net at the end, just large enough to cradle a small ball. Teams rally to score goals, while trying to keep the ball away from the opposing team. Traditionally games were played as a prelude for preparing men for battle, and the playing field could stretch for miles, with games lasting over a day. Lacrosse has been played by native tribes since as early as 1100 and was adapted into an American team sport in the 1800s.
Jaylen Strong, director of the Bois Forte Heritage Center, gave a brief history of the game, its significance in Native American culture, and the fact that women, as well as men, were now welcome to play.
Players, none of whom had played before, got a brief introduction on the rules, were shown how to keep the small ball safely in their net, how to toss the ball into the goal, and then the games began.
This is the second year that the Virginia Schools Indian Education Program has sponsored the indigenous games. This year the event was expanded to include a day of games at Vermilion in addition to events held in Virginia.
“We wanted to get more children involved,” Knife Chief said. The event brought together many area families, and Knife Chief said they plan to do it again next year.
Other games played included the moccasin game and snow snakes. Some children just spent the afternoon playing and sliding on the huge piles of snow lining the parking lot. Lunch was served inside the Vermilion Wellness Center. After the outdoor games, families got the chance to make homemade ice cream, and then feast on ice cream sundaes.
The program was sponsored by ISD 706 Indian Education Program, Bois Forte Maternal Child Health, Bois Forte Heritage Center, and Bois Forte Native Hearts.

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