Double Ball

Traditional games like double ball are part of Indian Arts.
Traditional games like double ball are part of Indian Arts.

NPS

Tribes of North America enjoyed many traditional games, passed from generation to generation, and tribe to tribe. One game played by numerous tribes, all across the continent, was Double Ball.

Played almost exclusively by women, Double Ball has a lot of similarities to our current-day lacrosse. Double Ball gets its name from two small balls that are attached to each other with a leather thong. The balls/thong are thrown and caught using a curved stick. Ball shape, size and materials varied by region, as did the specific rules. However, in general terms, the objective of the game was for one team to throw or “pass” the balls, using their sticks to catch the connecting leather thong and re-throw the balls on to another team member, making forward progress.

Points were earned by hitting a target, or goal established in each team’s “end-zone.” Often, this goal was a wicket, made of crotched poles about six feet tall, having a bar fastened across the top. The balls could not be allowed to touch the ground from the time an umpire tossed them into the air to begin play. The team that allows the balls to fall, loses a point.

Field sizes were usually no shorter than 100 yards long; some are believed to have been up to one mile in length.

Source: “Games 2 of the North American Indians,” by Stewart Culin

Last updated: February 20, 2018