GAMBLING GAME "GINS"
(Informant: Lewis Manuel)
In this game a court was provided, consisting of a level space, nine by thirteen feet, the southwest corner of which is called the "house" (kee), where ten holes are scooped out of the ground. The other three corners have only nine holes. The implements used are four sticks (about 6 3/4 inches by 3/4 of an inch), originally made of arrowwood, which grew large when water was plentiful, but now are made of mesquite root and so split that they have a rounded and a flat side. These sticks have various markings which indicate their numerical values, and the counting is very complicated. A flat stone is employed to hit the bottom ends of the sticks which are held loosely at a slight angle in the right hand and when they fall to the ground, whatever number or numbers turn up, they represent the number of holes in the ground, and the first move is made by the first player's "horse" (ginse). The horses are made of any kind of wood, and are of different shapes, so that each man may recognize his own. Every player has his personal stone, which is supposed to bring him luck, and he frequently blows or spits on it. There are also sticks about three feet long with forked ends to pull in the ginse.
If the same number is thrown by the second player, the first man's horse is "killed" and has to start over again. When the winning horse has traversed the course, his direction is reversed, then every other player's horse is against him. Should the winner send the other horses to start over, it becomes dangerous for his "pet," therefore he is careful to jump him over the other horses and not kill any of them.
When the leading man is nearing the end, he must be careful of the last hole, called the "fire" (naada), and if on the home stretch he throws number fourteen or fifteen, he "burns up" and is forced to start over again. Anyone going in either direction, if he throws the highest numbers and lands in the first, which is also the last hole, he burns up. The nearest players to the holes move the horses according to the numbers thrown, "but they must be watched, or they might cheat."
In olden times the players sat cross-legged on the ground and could remain in that position for hours. At the court which I saw, the game was shaded by three mesquite trees and there were convenient banks of earth, an old tin tank, a tin toolbox, a milkcan, buckets, etc., for seats. Any number of men, "the more the merrier," came every Sunday afternoon to play.
George Webb told me that bets were made on the players, and sometimes a village elected a contestant to represent it in playing against another community. Nowadays the game is played only for fun and entertainment, not for gain. (See Russell, pp. 175-176; figs. 89, 90; Culin, pp. 148-152, figs. 170-176; Smith.)* * * *
(Informant: Stephen Jones)
Two women played this game, using about twelve round stones the size of marbles. One player tossed up a stone and pushed the remaining ones under her cupped left hand before catching the thrown pebble. If she missed it, the other woman took her turn. The score was kept by marks on the ground. Now they use metal "jacks" which "cost fifteen cents a set." (See Russell, p. 179, fig. 94). * * * *
(Informant: George Webb)
A racing game, called wee-ichida, was played, using a ball made of mesquite wood or of a light volcanic stone called totshak, which means 'foam on the water.' Both kinds of balls were dipped in boiling mesquite gum (kwi choovadak), or creosote gum, and allowed to cool; they were then black, and as smooth as glass. My informant showed me one of the stone balls, which was about eight inches in diameter. A long time ago the men ran and kicked the ball barefoot, but later they wore cowhide sandals. One man raced against another, sometimes for four to five miles and back. Prizes consisted of a cow, a horse, oxen, etc. Occasionally a man would cheat by using four balls, then he was not forced to look for the regular single ball when it flew off into the brush. "Following a kicked ball would make a man go faster, like driving a car," George said.
Lewis Manuel's father used to start early in the morning for Casa Blanca, more than twenty miles distant, kick a ball all the way, and would irrigate his crops and return before night.
In olden days, if a man was very expert with the running game ball, it was buried with him. (See Russell, pp. 172-174, figs. 87, 88.)
Tarahumara Indians of Chihuahua are famous runners the world over. Preparatory to their big races they practice by kicking a massive wooden ball as they run. (See Toor, p. 279; Bennett and Zinag, p. 335 et seq.)* * * *
(Informant: Mason McAffee)
Vopoda was played by men at night. A fire of dry wood was made, three men sitting on one side and three on the other. The players first put up prizes, such as their clothes, new pieces of cloth, money, or even women, and bets were made individually between members of the opposing parties.
A player from each side had two small sticks of arrowwood just large enough to be hidden in each hand. One stick was white, the other wound with red cloth. When these were concealed, the players folded their arms and, squatting on their heels, swayed their bodies from side to side. There were three players and three guessers, and a man from the guessing side would concentrate for a while, then clap his hands and indicate the place where the red stick was hidden. If he was successful, his side scored a point and the sticks were passed to the opponents and the procedure was reversed. A score-keeper was chosen, who cut twenty long sticks, and each time a point was made, one counter was allowed to the winners; when they had won all the sticks, the game was over.
Many people stood about, placed their bets and sang songs, even composing new ones.* * * *
(Informant: Dean McArthur)
Woolevega refers to something tied into a bundle like grain, also sagebrush wrapped in mesquite bark, which was thrown ahead of a marksman for a moving target, according to Father Antonine. Its aim was to become expert at shooting through practice. Long grass, (Spoolevam) sour clover (Melilotus indica L.), or tips of oos hawkmaki (arrowwood), were cut and folded into one-foot lengths. This bundle was wound round and round with mesquite or willow bark until it was three or four inches thick, when it was ready for use. The woolevega was placed about thirty feet away on the ground and several boys, twelve to fourteen years old, used it as a target for their arrows. (Boys at this age were supposed to take up the duties of manhood, such as hunting and protecting the family from the enemy. ) The first boy who hit the target picked it up and tossed it into the air, quickly drawing his bow and aiming an arrow at it. He was allowed four shots. If he made a lucky hit, he won all the prizes; but if he lost, the game started over again until a boy hit both the target on the ground and again in the air. At the beginning of the match each youth put up one of his possessions for the prize, such as feathers, arrows, slingshots, sinew, paint, etc. (See Russell, p. 178.)
Copyright © 1884. The Arizona Board of Regents