Simply entertaining

Kids learn what Navajos did before smart phones

Boys lined up along rope.

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
To Yil Niya Anderson pulls on the rope in the tug-of-war during the “Shielding our Culture” finale of outdoor games at the Navajo Nation Museum July 27.

WINDOW ROCK

kids play with hoops on field

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
Rosie Begay loses control of her hoop in the hoop race during the “Shielding our Culture” finale of outdoor games at the Navajo Nation Museum July 27.

Two little girls grabbed sticks and wooden hoops to play Tsibaas, or Hoop Race.

This was one of the traditional games played in Chaco Canyon, said Tim Begay, a Navajo culture specialist from the Historic Preservation Department.

“It was played all the time with kids when they were small,” Begay said. “It was a game that everyone used to play before there was TV and smart phones.”

The game involves drawing four lines on the ground to create two narrow rows spaced a few feet apart. Then, each player is given a long thin stick that has a “y” shape at the very end and a wooden hoop.

The object of the race is to roll the wooden hoop using only the stick from the beginning of the row to the end and back without going over the lines or letting the hoop fall. If you do either you have to start over.

kids in burlap sacks

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
Contestants leap from the starting line in the gunny sack race during the “Shielding our Culture” finale of outdoor games at the Navajo Nation Museum July 27.

This was just one of the cultural games children and parents played during the final youth workshop of the summer Arts, Cultural, Language Immersion series at the Navajo Nation Museum. The seven workshops happen annually in July at the museum.

“Any time you play traditional games you have to know the rules and then you have to say them in Navajo,” Begay said. “So hopefully, (participants) walk away with learning their language and a little bit of motor skills.”

overhead view of board game

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
The board for Tsidił, the Navajo Stick game, awaits players during the “Shielding our Culture” finale of outdoor games at the Navajo Nation Museum July 27.


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About Author

Pauly Denetclaw

Pauly Denetclaw is Meadow People born for Towering House People. She was raised in Manuelito and Naschitti, New Mexico. She was the co-recipient of the Native American Journalist Association’s 2016 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting. Denetclaw is currently finishing her degree in multimedia journalism from the University of New Mexico – Main. Denetclaw covers a range of topics including genetic research, education, health, social justice issues and small businesses. She loves coffee, writing and being with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her handle is @pdineclah