Centuries-Old Lakota Games on Display in Mitchell, S.D.

For those interested in a game of Hutamacute, Canwicikinyapi or Icashlohe, a small South Dakota town is the place to be this weekend.

These centuries-old Native games will be among those presented this Saturday (January 19) at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village in Mitchell, S.D.

Mike Marshall, a member of the Rosebud Lakota Sioux, will be the instructor of the Lakota Winter Games. He'll present five games his ancestors used to play on the ice.

The presentation, which will be held on the frozen Lake Mitchell, is free and open to people of all ages.

"It's not a demonstration," Marshall said. "It's hands-on participation. We're going to get together some players and go out on the ice and play these games."

Marshall, a self-employed artist and cultural presenter, makes the objects utilized in the Lakota games.

Three of the games -- Hutamacute, Pteheste and Paslohanpi -- are sliding games. The goal for all three of these activities is to slide an object as far as possible on a smooth surface of ice.


Hutamacute is a game in which participants slide a buffalo rib as far as possible. The buffalo rib is adorned with a pair of stems coming out of its back and also has feathers attached.

The technique for throwing the Hutamacute is similar to that of throwing a bowling ball.


In Pteheste competitors slide a game piece that looks a lot like an arrow -- but instead of an arrowhead tip, it has a buffalo horn tip.

"These things can really go, sometimes over 100 yards," Marshall said.

Both Hutamacute and Pteheste were primarily played by boys or young men.

A ledger art depiction of Paslohanpi by Mike Marshall

Paslohanpi, on the other hand, was a women's javelin game. But instead of throwing the javelin -- a long, thin shaft of ash with a buffalo horn spear point -- it was simply slid along the ice.

The other two games Marshall will present are Canwicikinyapi and Icashlohe. The former is a spinning tops game, played on ice, primarily by boys, while the latter is a women's bowls game in which competitors use a round rock to knock down little stubs of wood.


"It's a thing our people here don't know about," Marshall said of all the games. "These are dead words and dead subjects."

Marshall started presenting the games almost a decade ago when he worked for a Lakota museum in St. Francis, S.D.

Marshall majored in art at South Dakota's Sinte Gleska University. He graduated from the school in 1999.


For Marshall, this will mark the second time he's presented Lakota games at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village. He was at the facility last summer to teach various summer activities.

"We had hundreds and hundreds of people out for that summer program," said Cindy Gregg, the facility's executive director.

The success of that session convinced Gregg to invite Marshall back in the winter.

"This is the first time we are trying this, as traditionally we are closed for the winter," Gregg said. "It's by appointment only here in the winter. But I wanted to do something to keep the community open to us."

For more information, visit MitchellIndianVillage.org or facebook.com/mitchellprehistoricindianvillage