Playing snow snake games in the Northeast Kingdom. Two schools enjoyed playing this traditional Abenaki game in 2021. It gives our tribe so much pleasure to see children of today enjoying this game from so long ago. Hopefully, they will pass this traditional game down from generation to generation so it won't be lost. As you can hear, they are having fun!
This traditional toy was used by Abenaki children and was made from a
piece of Maskwa, birch bark, which was cut into a triangular shape
about 6 inches wide. A small ball of buckskin which was stuffed with
deer hair would be tied to one corner of the triangle using sinew or
twine. A hole would be cut into the center of the triangle that was just
slightly larger than the ball. The child would grab one corner of the
bark triangle opposite the string and flip the ball into the air trying to
get the ball to go through the hole in the bark.
The bowl and dice game was one of the most popular games among Abenaki men and was often time played for great stakes such as furs, knives, guns, wampum etc.
Adowiz is an old game that has been played by Abenaki children for
many years. The bundles are 8 inches long and made from pine
needles or white cedar twigs. One variation uses a deer or moose hide
about 4 inches long which is punctured with holes, the center one being
slightly larger than the others. The piece of hide is connected to a
bundle which is tightly wound round with the cord and attached to a 9
inch long sharp pointed stick, tied near the center and held between
the thumb and forefinger like a pen.
The object of the game give it an upward toss and try to pierce the
bundle or one of the holes in the hide with the pointed end of the stick.
The buzzer is a toy that is familiar to most people. The buzzer is made
of a flat round piece of wood, pottery, gourd or bone and is 2 to 4
inches in diameter with two holes in the center. The buzzer is
connected to two sticks that are 5 inches long with a twined sinew
strand twenty inches long doubled over. With a little practice and skill
the buzzers make a sound similar to the sound of the wind.
A winter game played by the Abenaki was called the snow snake. Most
Abenaki snow snakes were hand carved pieces of wood, usually hickory
or ash, that were approximately 18-24 inches, although some Wabanaki
tribes made snow snakes that were up to 6-7 feet long. Among the
numerous shapes are two main varieties, the spoon mouth – Amkuôn
which is about 2 feet long and flat at top and bottom with one end
concave like the bowl of a spoon and the snake head – Skoks Mdeb
which is long slender and round with one end resembling a snakes head
and the other pointed. There is also the Skegaweis which is flat
underneath, round on top and about 2 feet in length and the
P’tgukwholok which is the largest of all and is from 5 to 7 feet long and
nearly round with both ends raised slightly and pointed.
See linked printout for directions.
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