by Dan Beard
Figs. 346 & 348.
Squaw Stick and Saddle-Bags.
Squaw, Saddle-Bags, or Sky Shinny
In place of a bung or a golf-ball a pair of bags are used for the game of
Squaw, Saddle-bags, or Sky Shinny, as it is variously called. These are made of
soft leather or buckskin, and are connected by a strap twenty-four inches long,
securely sewed to the bags at each end. The bags are seven by four inches, and
usually contain corn, beans, or some similar material. The bags should not be
heavy enough to make dangerous missiles, but should be of sufficient weight to
render it possible to throw them a considerable distance (Fig. 347).
No one is allowed to touch the bags with his hands or feet. Each player is
supplied with a light, strong ash or hickory stick curved at one end like a
shinny or golf-stick. (Fig. 346). It is with these sticks that the bags are
picked up from the ground, skillfully caught on the fly, and carried, while the
player makes a rush for goal; or the sticks may be used like slings or
throwing-sticks, with which to send the twin bags sailing over the heads of the
governing this game are similar in many respects to those governing the old
game of football as played at Rugby. But in this game there is no kicking
another fellow's shins or legs below the knee, as the Rugby boys do. No player
is allowed to kick either below or above the knee, or to trip another player
with foot or stick.
The ground on which Saddle-bags is played is called The "prairie,"
and is the same size as the foot-ball field, with the same boundaries. There are
two goals, one at each end of the field, consisting of two uprights with cross
poles about ten feet from the ground.
There may be any number of
divided as in football, but with different names.
The rushers are called the tribes, the half-backs braves, the full-backs
bucks, and the captains chiefs.
The game begins by the two chiefs tossing up for choice of goals or first
cast. If the winner chooses first cast, the loser has choice of goals; if the
winner takes choice of goals the loser has first cast.
After these preliminaries are settled the two chiefs place their men, sending
the bucks back to guard the goals, and the braves to a position between the
bucks and the tribe. The duties of the braves are liable to begin immediately
upon the opening of
particularly if the opposing side makes a good cast, and the saddle-bag comes
whirling over the tribe to where the braves are placed. The braves must be ready
and are expected to catch the bags, and whoever does so must run for dear life,
with the bags swinging from the end of his stick. When he sees that he can carry
them no farther he must cast them with might and main for the goal, or, if
necessary, pass them from his stick to that of one of his tribe, who receives
them and does his "level best " to carry or cast them to the goal, or
pass them to still another of his own tribe.
It is the duty of the opposing braves to do their utmost to intercept or
tackle the foe, who carries the bags on his stick, or to lift the bags from the
enemy, and having obtained them to run as fast as possible in the opposite
direction, and go through all the tactics already described.
The bags are free to all when in play, but you are not allowed to capture
them by forcibly striking the enemy's stick or person with your stick, though it
is considered perfectly fair to lift them by thrusting, poking, slipping, or
inserting the end of your stick under the bags and lifting them from their perch
on the enemy's rod.
It is the duty of the tribe to gain possession of the saddle-bags when a
brave is stopped, and to fling them with all possible force toward the goal. The
duty of the bucks is similar to that of the braves, whenever the bags pass over
the heads of the latter.
No advantage that counts in the score is gained by either side until the bags
are cast over the goal or carried beyond the enemy's goal line. A run over the
goal-line counts one scalp; a cast under the goal-stick and over the goal-line
counts three scalps; a goal, that is, a cast over the goal-stick, counts ten
scalps. If by accident the saddle-bags catch and hang on the goal-stick, it is
called a straddle and counts eight scalps. When the bags fall outside the
boundaries they are placed on the "prairie" by the umpire at the
point, as near as he can judge, where they crossed the line for a scrimmage as
in foot-ball, only in this case the bags must be sent overhead.
It is the duty of umpire to watch that no player kicks, strikes, or butts
another, and warn him for the first offence and rule him off the field for the
second. All doubtful points are decided by the umpire by the rules of football.
The side that first scores forty-five points is the victor.
Considerable skill is required to play a good game of Saddle-bags, and
besides this there is any amount of excitement and exercise with a minimum
amount of danger. Once a crowd of boys learn the game well enough to make an
occasional goal with a long cast across field they will become fascinated with
the good American game of Saddle-bags, which is adapted, with few changes of any
importance, from an old game of our red-skinned brothers.