top of page


For Native people, sports are an important part of traditional society. Athletic prowess, sportsmanship, competitiveness, and spirituality are intertwined with various sporting activities. “Ball” games were always extremely popular among Native Americans. Team sports such as Lacrosse, Shinny Ball, Double Ball, and Long Ball emphasize the importance of strength of both the body and mind and of leadership and responsibility to others.


Click on the images to expand for more information


LACROSSE - Creator's Game

Atenaha (Seed Game)Pronounced: ah-deh-nah-ha


Play: One person is chosen to throw the eight dice first. (Dice are passed in a counter-clockwise direction, unless the game is being played to honor someone who has passed on to the Spirit World. In that case, the dice are passed clockwise.)


The player who is throwing the dice continues to throw as long as he/she is winning corn or unless he/she accidentally drops one or more of the dice when picking them up or when shaking them. The player uses one hand to hide his/her winnings and the other hand to pick up and throw the dice.


Play continues until the pot is empty. At that point, any player who has not won any corn is out of the game. That is called getting “skunked”. The game continues, but now the dice thrower gets corn from the other players instead of from the pot.


A player without corn can continue to play as long as he/she don’t owe any corn. If a player doesn’t have enough corn to pay what is owed then his/her corn is divided evenly among the remaining players and that player is out of the game.



Corn is not collected after each throw. Instead, the thrower tries to maintain luck by picking up and throwing the dice as quickly as possible. Corn is only picked up after the player’s turn has ended. (If a player threw combinations which added up to 6, then the other 3 players give 2 each. If 10 corn kernels are won and there are 3 players, then each player gives 4 corn because giving 3 wouldn’t be enough.


Since, the thrower won 12 corn rather than 10, that is called a “windfall.”Players who are not throwing may shout “shaaaa” as the dice are being thrown to try to give bad luck to the thrower. Shouting “kahonta” (pronounced ga hoon dah) means “to make all one color” like a field and that gives good luck to the thrower. The game ends when one player wins all 40 corn kernels.


Purpose: This game is played for fun, to honor someone who has passed away, or to help settle family disagreements by putting decision-making into the hands of the Creator.


Items needed: 8 two-sided wooden dice (darkened on one side, natural color on the other side), 40 corn kernels which are placed in the center of the table (the pot) at the start of the game.Players: Six to twenty players can play.Goal: Whoever wins all 40 kernels of corn wins the game.



Dice combinations:

1 white & 7 black - win 4 corn

7 white & 1 black - win 4 corn

2 white & 6 black - win 2 corn

6 white & 2 white - win 2 corn

3 white & 5 black - turn ends

5 white & 3 white - turn ends

4 white & 4 black - turn ends

All 8 white - win 10 corn

All 8 black - win 20 corn

© 2014 Iroquois Indian Museum created with

  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
  • Google Classic
  • RSS Classic
bottom of page