Column: Eastern Cherokees preserve 'Indian ball'

"This week a group of men from our community gathered to play “Indian ball.” They gathered by the river before and after the game in the tradition of the animals and birds who first played this game. The Indian ball game is akin to lacrosse and has been called “the little brother of war” because it was used to settle disputes and establish strength among the men.

Each year the men and boys gather on a field along U.S. 19 in Wolfetown to practice and share the tradition. Families and friends gather to watch, visit and celebrate the time of year when we get to participate in the game as a community, as a nation. Many of the boys also play during the school year as part of their physical education class, and the Cherokee elementary students have a special assembly to watch the game on the grounds of the school.

There are rules

To many a passerby the game seems unruly and rough. There are rules to the game and there are referees, whom we call drivers. There are also elders in the group who teach the traditional way to join the game, including the way to make and handle the rackets and ball, the way to score effectively by running the ball through the uprights and the challenge call issued to the opposing team. All these things must be learned in order to preserve the ancient sport."

Get the Story:
‘Indian ball’ still preserved in tribal heritage (The Asheville Citizen-Times 10/12)

Relevant Links:
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians -
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, site 2 -
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, unofficial -

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