Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Native American Practice of Gambling For a Dead Man's Possessions

Native American Practice of Gambling For a Dead Man's Possessions


Native American Games and Gambling
     It is not proposed to describe under this heading examples of those athletic and gymnastic performances following the death of a person which have been described by Lafitau, but simply to call attention to a practice as a secondary or adjunct part of the funeral rites, which consists in gambling for the possession of the property of the defunct. Dr. Charles E. McChesney, U.S.A., who for some time was stationed among the Wahpeton and Sisseton Sioux, furnishes a detailed and interesting account of what is called the “ghost gamble.” This is played with marked wild-plum stones. So far as ascertained it is peculiar to the Sioux. Figure 33 appears as a fair illustration of the manner in which this game is played.    
   After the death of a wealthy Indian the near relatives take charge of the effects, and at a stated time—usually at the time of the first feast held over the bundle containing the lock of hair—they are divided into many small piles, so as to give all the Indians invited to play an opportunity to win something. One Indian is selected to represent the ghost and he plays against all the others, who are not required to stake anything on the result, but simply invited to take part in the ceremony, which is usually held in the lodge of the dead person, in which is contained the bundle inclosing the lock of hair. In cases where the ghost himself is not wealthy the stakes are furnished by his rich friends, should he have any. The players are called in one at a time, and play singly against the ghost’s representative, the gambling being done in recent years by means of cards. If the invited player succeeds in beating the ghost, he takes one of the piles of goods and passes out, when another is invited to play, &c., until all the piles of goods are won. In cases of men only the men play, and in cases of women the women only take part in the ceremony.