Tunica-Biloxi Tribe hosting annual stickball clinic
Baseball is “America’s pastime” and football is America’s most popular sport, but Native American stickball is America’s first organized team competition.
The Tunica-Biloxi Language & Culture Revitalization Program (LCRP) will host its sixth annual Stickball Clinic & Exhibition event this Saturday (Feb. 8) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the tribe’s Chief Joseph Pierite Pow Wow Grounds in Marksville.
The clinic is open for all children -- tribal and non-tribal -- between the ages of 11-16.
Visiting players from the Alabama-Coushatta Stickball team of Livingston, Texas, will once again teach youth the basics of the game and and hold an exhibition match for spectators.
Clinic participants will also hold scrimmage games to put into practice what they learn in the workshop.
Participation in the workshop is open to the public for a $10 fee. Tunica-Biloxi tribal children may register free of charge.
Participants must pre-register by today (Feb. 3).
The public is welcome to view the exhibition game free of charge.
LCRP will host a cookout for clinic participants after the workshop and exhibition.
Space is limited. Parent(s) must accompany children to the clinic.
To view the event on Facebook, visit https://www.facebook.com/ events/494725191163004/.
Please contact Jessica Barbry at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 240-6469 to register.
Native American stickball is considered to be one of the oldest team sports in North America.
Stickball and the more widely known lacrosse -- a northern version of the game -- are similar. Lacrosse was played by Northern U.S. and Canadian tribes. Stickball was played by tribes in the Southeast and Southwest.
The first written record of the game by European explorers was in the mid-17th Century, but it is believed the game was developed and played for hundreds of years before Europeans arrived.
The game was once popular with members of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, but gradually disappeared in the mid-20th Century.
Interest in the game was renewed when Choctaws in Mississippi, the Coushatta in Louisiana and the Alabama-Coushatta in Texas established an active, inter-tribal competition.
“More than just a game, stickball builds body and spirit through exercise when played by all age groups—children, youth and adults,” LCRP Director John Barbry said. “Many games have roots in ancestral tests of strength and sport that reinforced group cooperation and sharpened survival skills in often hostile environments.”
Like many other activities that are now athletic events -- such as boxing, javelin throw, fencing, etc. -- Native American stickball had its roots in preparing for war and maintaining physical and mental readiness for battle.
“The gradual shift to a more sedentary lifestyle has highlighted the need to reawaken interest in physical activity, especially among Native American youth,” Barbry said. “Promoting stickball could, once again, become an important part of improving the health and well-being of the Tunica-Biloxi people.”
The annual stickball clinic is just one of the activities the Marksville-based tribe conducts to preserve and revitalize the traditions of the tribe.
“It is necessary to provide community educational forums that will perpetuate knowledge and usage of these cultural elements,” Barbry said. “The Stickball Clinic & Exhibition provides an opportunity to explore traditions that are both unique and shared by neighboring indigenous communities.”