TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Earlier this year, Cherokee Nation citizen Jim Cosby posted a question on a Cherokee cultural and language Facebook page asking if anyone played the game of Chunkey. After getting few responses, he organized a group and invite anyone participate in an effort to revive the ancient game that was played by many Native tribes, including Cherokees.
According to Cosby, “It’s an ancient sport of our people that has been lost to time. We’re pretty certain that it probably hasn’t been played organized in probably more than 200 years. I’ve known about the game forever. I even had a chunkey stone, the stone that’s used to play this game.”
“No one knew anything about it. I kind of knew some of the rules, so a lot of us got together and we started researching it and started trying to figure out how it was played and what spears were used and such. So we did that. We’ve taken my chunkey stone. One of our Cherokee artists Eddie Morrison he’s making us some more chunkey stones to use in this sport. And we’ve began making spears to use.”
He added that from his and other’s research, they think that missionaries may have put a stop to the game because it was primarily a gambling sport.
Cosby said those interested in joining the gameplay could request to join the Facebook page, “Cherokee Chunkey Players.”
“You can join it and get updates. We make extra spears and bring them out so people can enjoy the sport with us. It’s a lot of fun and we hope to get it going again,” he added.
Long-term goals for the newly created group include challenging other tribal Nations that play. Cosby said he would like to see it introduced into the Cherokee National Holiday traditional games too.
Normally Chunkey is played on an 8 by 100 foot hard-packed clay surface. The roller roles the Chunkey stone and other players throw spears in attempt to get closest to the stone wherever it stops rolling without hitting the stone with the tip of the spear.
Cosby said these are the basic rules for the game that he and others from the group have determined, but they continue to research and learn more as they go along. He said most spears were eight foot and did not have a spear tip. He encouraged everyone to come and witness or even play the game because it’s a part of the Cherokee heritage.
<strong>Rules of the game</strong>
The game of Chunkey is played using a smooth round stone that rolls along the ground while spear throwers try to land their 8-foot-long spear as close to the stone without hitting it before it stops rolling.
Some people have created a Facebook group “Cherokee Chunkey Players” in an effort to revive the game.
<a href="http://cnmediav1.cherokee.org/vod/Phoenix/News/2016/vid_161014_Chunkeyrules._sg_bs.mp4" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>a video of the rules of the game.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Men, women and children from various tribes on Oct. 15 took to the Cherokee Nation’s One Fire Field to compete in the 2016 Shoot of the Nations cornstalk shoot competition.
Buddy McCarty, a CN citizen and Cherokee Cornstalk Society member, said people competed to see who was the best but that the competition was also a time for friends to come together.
“It’s just getting together and swapping tales and seeing who’s the best,” he said.
The competition began with the children’s shoot and then the women and men took to the field all competing for the first place title.
He said the competition rotates from tribe to tribe and it’s been about four years since the competition took place at the Cherokee Nation.
“We just shoot at different places,” he said. “Last year was at the Chickasaws, and we’ve been to the Seminoles, and we’ve been to the Creeks, and we’ve been down to the Choctaws. We just rotate.”
McCarty said he hopes the shoot gets more citizens learning about this aspect of their culture.
“We’re trying to get everybody to start making their own bows and shooting their own arrows and just get the tradition back,” he said.
Tom Standley, an Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen, said he’s been making the approximate 1,200-mile round trip from Champaign, Illinois, for the past couple of years to compete in cornstalk competitions such as Shoot of the Nations.
“I’ve been coming down here for the Cherokee Nation shoots and the Creek Nation shoots over in Okmulgee for a couple of years,” he said. “Probably a half a dozen trips that first summer and last summer, probably the same, just because this is the only place I can do cornstalk shooting.”
He said he’s been shooting for nearly 10 years and has been making bows for about eight. He said it’s important for him to participate in this activity because it’s a Native game.
“It’s a Native game. It’s a Cherokee game and my family lives in Cherokee, North Carolina, but there’s no cornstalk shooting down there. It just feels like something I should be doing,” he said. “It’s a connection. It’s Indian people coming together, having fun. Making their own bows and just enjoying being out on a nice day. Even though I drove…I’m not locked in on winning or getting as many hits as I can. It’s just about enjoying doing it, and that’s the way it seems to be for most people.”
<strong>Shoot of the Nations Winners</strong>
10 and Under: Braden Birdtail, first place; Kurt McClain Trammel, second place; Chase Jones, third place
11-14: Josiah Robinson, first place; Legend Concharro, second place; Jeromiah Birdtail II, third place
Adult: Pete Vann, first place; Jeromiah Birdtail, second place; Chris Forman, third place
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Congratulations to Nan Butler from Wellston for being the Cherokee Phoenix’s third quarter giveaway winner.
On Oct. 3, Butler won four painted tiles by Cherokee artist MaryBeth Timothy of MoonHawk Art after Cherokee Phoenix staff members drew her name from approximately 980 entries.
The tiles are 6 inches by 8 inches and titled “Bear Clan” with a bear, “Ancient Glory” with an eagle, “PeekaBoo” with a wolf and “Seven” or “GaLiQuoGi” with horses.
Butler joins Wauneta Wine of Columbia, Maryland, and Dale Easky of St. Clair, Missouri, as the 2016 Cherokee Phoenix giveaway winners. Wine won a carving by Cherokee sculptor Matthew Girty on July 1, and Easky won a knife by Cherokee knife maker Ray Kirk on April 1.
Entries can be obtained by donating to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder Fund or buying a Cherokee Phoenix subscription or merchandise. One entry is given for every $10 spent.
The Cherokee Phoenix will hold its fourth drawing on Jan. 3 when it gives away beaded jewelry by Cherokee artist and Native Uniques owner Samantha Barnes.
For more information regarding the giveaways, call Samantha Cochran at 918-207-3825 or Justin Smith at 918-207-4975 or email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a> or <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
For more information on Native Uniques, go to Nativeuniques.com or call 918-214-0030. For more information on MoonHawk Art, email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a> or visit <a href="http://www.moonhawkart.com" target="_blank">http://www.moonhawkart.com</a>.
VINITA, Okla. – Eastern Trails Museum and Cherokee Nation officials on Sept. 24 opened the museum’s new CN addition with a ribbon-cutting and proclaimed the day as “Cherokee Day.”
With funding provided by the Tribal Council and cultural artifacts donated by CN citizens, the museum, which opened in its current location in 1970, can now show the connection between the town of Vinita and the CN.
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he was proud of the addition.
“There’s always been Cherokee items at this wonderful museum, but lately the museum has focused on putting an emphasis on Cherokee history because Vinita is a Cherokee town. Vinita was built by Cherokees. It was certainly here before statehood,” he said. “The Cherokee Nation is just here today to help the museum and the town celebrate the opening of the new addition.”
Hoskin, who is from Vinita, added that there are deep roots in the northern Cherokee community.
According to www.50States.com, Vinita is located in Craig County and was established in 1871 by Elias Cornelius Boudinot, the son of the first Cherokee Phoenix editor, Elias Boudinot.
The town was originally called Downingville after CN Chief Lewis Downing but was later renamed Vinita after artist Lavinia Ellen Ream Hoxie. It was incorporated in 1898, nine years before Oklahoma statehood. It was also the first town in the state to receive electricity.
Eastern Trails Museum Director Kathleen Duchamp said she was excited about the addition and was glad to see Cherokees sharing their culture.
“Cherokee Nation brought seven Cherokee National Treasures who demonstrated basketry, loom weaving, buffalo grass dolls, sculptures, pottery and traditional bow making to large, appreciative crowds,” she said. Duchamp said the exhibit tells the story of the region’s Cherokees and how they were the area’s important pioneers.
Dist. 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vasquez said she was “thrilled” about the event.
“I’m also thrilled I was able to help with Cherokee funds to make this Cherokee exhibit possible. It’s a permanent Cherokee exhibit, it’s brand new and it’s going to be here forever.”
Vasquez, who also lives in Vinita, donated several items to the exhibit. She said she’s visited the Eastern Trails Museum since she was a girl and called it a Craig County showpiece.
For more information about the museum located 215 W. Illinois Ave., call 918-323-1338 or visit <a href="http://www.EasternTrailsMuseum.com" target="_blank">www.EasternTrailsMuseum.com</a>.
EUCHA, Okla. – Each year in late September, Cherokee Nation citizen Mark Dunham and his father Tad check chinkapin trees, which were once plentiful in the area, for prickly, green burs that hold nuts.
Logging practices and a chestnut disease in the 1950s and 1960s nearly wiped out the Ozark chinkapin or Chinquapin. The Dunhams now compete with squirrels, deer and other animals for the small amount of nuts produced by the chinkapin trees on their land in Delaware County.
“It’s a tree that’s becoming scarce because of a fungal virus. The fungal virus came from Chinese chestnut trees, which are very closely related to these trees,” Mark said. “Historically, the tree used to grow about 3 foot in diameter and would grow anywhere from 60 to 80 foot tall. It was a really good producer every year of nuts. The Cherokees, a long time ago, would make bread out of the nuts. The nuts are really high in protein, and they’re very good for you.”
According to the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, the Ozark chinkapin is also called the Ozark chestnut. It was drought tolerant and grew on acidic dry rocky soils on hilltops and slopes. It bloomed in late May to early June after the threat of frost. The wood was prized because it was rot resistant and made excellent railroad ties and fence posts.
“The Ozark Chinquapin nuts were delicious, and we waited for them to fall like you would wait on a crop of corn to ripen. They were that important. Up on the hilltop the nuts were so plentiful that we scooped them up with flat blade shovels and loaded them into the wagons to be used as livestock feed, to eat for ourselves and to sell. Deer, bears, turkeys, squirrels and a variety of other wildlife fattened up on the sweet crop of nuts that fell every year. But, starting in the 1950s and 60s all of the trees started dying off. Now they are all gone and no one has heard of them,” said a 96-year-old Missouri outdoorsman to the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, describing chinkapins before the blight reached the Ozarks.
Mark said these days the trees usually grow 4 inches in diameter and about 20 to 25 feet tall. Periodically, a tree dies but sends up sprouts that grow for a few years before they too die. He said the trees usually grow four to seven years before dying and sprouting again.
In 2015, Mark said he and his father harvested a pint of chinkapin nuts from one tree, and this year they managed to get about 10 nuts from a tree.
“So, this was really a poor year,” Mark said.
The Dunhams use leather gloves to handle the “spiky hull” that holds chinkapin nuts. Once the hulls or burs are pulled off a tree, Tad uses his pocketknife to split open the bur, which are three-quarter to 1-1/2 inches in diameter, to remove the nuts. Often the burs form in clusters on stems, but each bur contains a single, shiny brown acorn-like nut, which are called oo-na-geen or oo-ha-geen in Cherokee, Mark said.
Mark said there is also a chinkapin oak tree that sometimes people mistake for Ozark chinkapin. The chinkapin oak produces acorn nuts and the nuts from the trees look similar, he said, but the leaves are different with the Ozark chinkapin leaves, being more elongated and about 3 to 6 inches long.
He said besides making bread, he has eaten the nuts raw and roasted. Mark said the nuts have an “original taste” while Tad said the nuts taste similar to hazelnuts.
Tad has planted Chinese chestnut trees in his yard, which are disease resistant and produce a larger nut than the Ozark chinkapin, usually more than twice the size. Mark said the Chinese chestnut produces a nut about the size of a quarter while the Ozark chinkapin produces a nut smaller than a dime.
The Dunhams said they have a heritage of living off their land. Tad maintains a garden and keeps and feeds catfish in his pond. The family also gathers wild onions, morel mushrooms, black walnuts and black haws, which are a dark-black berry fruit. The family also hunts deer on its land. Tad said he is proud that his family could nearly sustain itself off of his property.
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The Muskogee Phoenix, Bacone College and Five Civilized Tribes Museum are joining forces to create synergies between new and current events to usher in the inaugural “River City Intertribal Celebration” on March 31. But to kick off the event, Native American musical group Brule will perform on Sept. 30 at the Civic Center.
On Oct. 1, the event shifts to Bacone College for the traditional powwow, a gathering of hundreds of the top Native dancers from across the country will compete for cash prizes. The day also will feature an art exhibit/show and dozens of Native American vendors displaying their arts and crafts.
Event officials said years ago Muskogee was home to the Indian International Fair, which resembled contemporary agricultural fairs. Held annually in Muskogee, Indian Territory, in September or October from 1875 to about 1900, the weeklong event featured produce and domestic exhibits in a barn-like pavilion.
Officials said these displays along with horse racing on the adjacent track, a merry-go-round and commercial vendors attracted many Indians and non-Indians from the Indian Territory and nearby states.
“As a historian, I am thrilled about the prospect of joining forces with the (Muskogee) Phoenix and the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in the effort to raise awareness of the incredible underlying Native history of Muskogee,” Dr. Patti Jo King, Bacone College’s Center for American Indians director, said. “It will be wonderful to bring this history to light again, and to be able to instill that historic pride in our community and future generations.”
King added that Bacone College, which opened in 1880, is the embodiment of the story of Indian Country and is a community treasure.
“I have spoken to many people who have passed by this landmark for years, but have never ventured inside its gates,” she said. “I guarantee that if you would, you would find yourself fascinated by its beauty and intrigued by its amazing history and the stories that tie this wonderful old school to the town and people of Muskogee. This town is truly a history enthusiast’s paradise.”
Officials said as an outgrowth of the Okmulgee Constitutional Convention of the early 1870s, the Indian International Fair served several purposes, including boosting the town and territory.
Through music, dance, exhibits, food, talent shows, traditional Native American games and activities and much more, officials said the “River City Intertribal Celebration” hopes to rekindle and recapture that same spirit of yesteryear.
“We are excited for the Five Civilized Tribes Museum and the participation of many talented artists in the River City Intertribal Celebration,” Sean Barney, museum executive director, said. “The festival is part of an effort to promote the region’s Indian music heritage and artistic talent. The festival will be the kickoff for the events showcased in April. We are very excited about the economic impact and awareness this event will bring to Muskogee.”
Officials said the event’s support does not stop with the Muskogee Phoenix, Bacone College and the Five Civilized Tribes Museum as they are reaching out to the Cherokee, Muscogee Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole nations, as well as the Comanche Nation for collaboration.
Officials said while working with the local and regional tribes, this celebration is also open to all Native American tribes throughout the country.
“Our Native and non-Native communities have lived side by side for decades,” King said. “What fun it would be to put out heads together and share the very best of what we both have to offer – our stories and cherished historic memories. We are excited to be a part of this first big event, and we are looking forward to welcoming our friends, neighbors and visitors to be a part of the celebration. Our hats off to John Newby for this splendid idea of sharing our cultural heritage here in this unique, historic area.”
Newby, publisher of the Muskogee Phoenix, said the dream is much larger than the inaugural event.
“While the inaugural event is starting out as a day-and-a-half event, the goals and plans certainly don’t stop there,” he said. “It is the vision that we build one of the premier several-day Native American destination events in the country. Muskogee was once the Native American capital of the country. We need to bring that feeling back, and what better way to lay the foundation to accomplish this goal?”
For more information, email Newby at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>; King at <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>firstname.lastname@example.org or Barney at <a href="http://email@example.com" target="_blank">firstname.lastname@example.org</a> or call Bacone Public Relations Office at 918-348-5868.