Indian Games for Boys
Mandan Ring ] Squaw, Sky Shinny ]




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Mandan Ring
Squaw, Sky Shinny

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Many of the games of the American Indians were devised to develop the skill and qualities necessary to make a first rate stalker, hunter, and warrior. Wise chiefs of all tribes throughout the Americas realized that a boy who was going to earn any or all of these tacit ranks must be well trained, while young, in the qualities essential to the chase and warpath. Prime necessities were keen and quick eyes, keen and quick ears, able to interpret the many and often mysterious woodland noises of the night and day. A keen sense of smell, combined with the ability to distinguish between the many deceptive smells peculiar to field and forest, was still another must for the warrior to be. Sure, silent feet in the forest and on the war trail were necessary. The coordination of mind and muscle, which meant the perfect partnership of quick thought and instant deed, was the final test of an alert and seasoned warrior.

Stamina, stability, and strength were also required qualities, but these, in healthy young bodies, were easier to develop than the more technical warrior needs first detailed.

The Indians realized that a keen eye was not necessarily a quick eye, nor was a keen ear a quick ear, nor a keen nose a discriminating one, until each organ was developed by special training. Often the training was rigid because the skilled instructors who taught and developed these essential skills knew that the successful development of them could easily mean the difference between life and death to the trainees. Detecting a slight noise in the forest was almost useless without the interpretive ability to tell what sort of animal or bird made it. A man made noise was very often the most deadly noise of all!  Was the noise the slight, snapping noise of a dry twig, a dry branch, or undergrowth, the breaking of a heavier branch, or the merest crackle or rustle? When a young brave in training could distinguish between these sounds he was well on the road to know what made them, but there was still an enormous amount of sound lore to be learned. A splash in a nearby lake or river could be a sound which meant food for the family pot, or the sudden departure of what might have been welcome food, on the hoof, wing, or fin. The vital questions to be answered by the young warrior were: which, what, where, and why? Yes, if a wild thing had taken off in sudden alarm, perhaps the most important question of the four was why?

Even when a young brave was wise in woodcraft and had reached an advanced state of learning in the ways and sounds of the wild, he was still haunted by the fear of misinterpretation of the sounds he heard. For instance, the gentle splash of a wary painted turtle suddenly leaving a low bank or log for the safety of deep water left a vital question to be resolved. Did the sudden departure of the turtle mean that the almost silent advance of the young warrior who heard it had been detected, or was the turtle alarmed by the advance scout of a war party or a lone warrior on the prowl for scalps? Here again, a wrong interpretation might mean sudden, silent death. It is quite impossible for those city youngsters who take no part in the thrill and adventure of life in field and forest to realize how much of the life of these young Indian hunters and scouts was spent on the alert, and how great was the strain on them mentally as well as physically.

A considerable part of the earlier training of the warriors and hunters to be was accomplished by means of games.


Squaw, Saddle-Bags, or Sky Shinny

Mandan Ring

See Also:

bulletRunning the Indian Scouts
bulletThe Game of Big Foot
bulletRules of the Buffalo Hunt Game
bulletHow to Make Animal Tracks
bulletGames for Boys!


Handbook of American Indian Games
Allan & Paulette Macfarlan
Only $8.95!






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Mandan Ring ] Squaw, Sky Shinny ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.