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THE GAME OF THE BOWL.
This is the principal game of hazard among the northern tribes._ It is played with thirteen pieces, hustled in a vessel called onagun, which is a kind of wooden bowl. They are represented, and named, as follows.
The pieces marked No. 1, in this cut, of which there are two, are called Ininewug, or men. They are made tapering, or wedge-shaped in thickness, so as to make it possible, in throwing them, that they may stand on their base. Number 2, is called Gitshee Kenabik, or the Great Serpent It consists of two pieces, one of which is fin-tailed, or if water-serpent, the other truncated, and is probably designed as terrestrial. They are formed wedge-shaped, so as to be capable of standing on their bases lengthwise. Each has four dots. Number 3. is called Pugamagun, or the war club. It has six marks on the handle, on the red side, and four radiating from the orifice of the club end; and four marks on the handle of the white side; and six radiating marks from the orifice on the club-end, making ten on each side. Number 4 is called Keego, which is the generic name for a fish. The four circular pieces of brass, slightly concave, with a flat surface on the apex, are called Ozawabiks. The three bird-shaped pieces, Sheshebwug, or ducks.
All but the circular pieces are made out of a fine kind of bone. One side of the piece is white, of the natural colour of the bones, and polished, the other red. The brass pieces have the convex side bright, the concave black. They are all shaken together, and thrown out of the onagun, as dice. The term pugasaing denotes this act of throwing. It is the participial form of the verb.—The following rules govern the game:
1. When the pieces are turned on the red side, and one of the Inane- wugs stands upright on the bright side of one of the brass pieces, it counts 158.
2. When all the pieces turn red side up, and the Gitshee Kenabik with the tail stands on the bright side of the brass piece, it counts 138.
3. When all turn up red, it counts 58 whether the brass pieces be bright or black side up.
4. When the Gitshee Kenabik and his associate, and the two Ininewugs turn up white side, and the other pieces red, it counts 58, irrespective of the concave or convex position of the brass pieces.
5. When all the pieces turn up white, it counts 38, whether the Ozawabiks, be bright or black.
6. When the Gitshee Kenabik and his associate turn up red, and the other white, it counts 38, the brass pieces immaterial.
7. When one of the Ininewugs stands up, it counts 50, without regard to the position of all the rest
8. When either of the Gitshee Kenabiks stands upright, it counts 40, irrespective of the position of the others.
9. When all the pieces turn up white, excepting one, and the Ozawabiks dark, it counts 20.
10. When all turn up red, except one, and the brass pieces bright, it counts 15.
11. When the whole of the pieces turn up white, but one, with the Ozawahiks bright, it counts 10.
12. When a brass piece turns up dark, the two Gitshee Kenabiks and the two men red, and the remaining pieces white, it counts 8.
13 When the brass piece turns up bright, the two Gitshee Kenabiks and one of the men red, and all the rest white, it is 6.
14. When the Gitshee Kennbik in chief, and one of the men turn up red, the Ozaw&biks, bright, and all the others white, it is 4.
15. When both the Kenabiks, and both men, and the three ducks, turn up red, the brass piece black, and either the Keego, or a duck white, it is 5.
16. When all the pieces turn up red, but one of the Ininewugs, and the brass piece black, it counts 2.
The limit of the game is stipulated. The parties throw up for the play.
This game is very fascinating to some portions of the Indians. They stake at it their ornaments, weapons, clothing, canoes, horses, every thing in fact they possess; and have been known, it is said, to set up their wives and children, and even to forfeit their own liberty. Of such desperate stakes, I have seen no examples, nor do I think the game itself in common use. It is rather confined to certain persons, who hold the relative rank of gamblers in Indian society—men who are not noted as hunters or warriors, or steady providers for their families. Among these are persons who bear the term of Ienadizze-wug, that is, wanderers about the country, braggadocios, or fops. It can hardly be classed with the popular games of amusement, by which skill and dexterity are acquired. I have generally found the chiefs and graver men of the tribes, who encouraged the young men to play ball, and are sure to be present at the customary sports, to witness, and sanction, and applaud them, speak lightly and disparagingly of this game of hazard, Yet, it cannot be denied, that some of the chiefs, distinguished in war and the chase, at the west, can be refer red to, as lending their example to its fascinating power.
An analysis of this game, to show its arithmetical principles and powers might be gone into; but it is no part of the present design to take up such considerations here, far less to pursue the comparison and extension of customs of this kind among the modern western tribes. It may be sufficient to say, from the foregoing rules, that there seems to be no unit in the throw, and that the count proceeds by decimals, for all numbers over 8. Doubtless these rules, are but a part of the whole series, known to ex. perienced players. They comprise, however, all that have been revealeu tome.
"Gambling is not peculiar to our race,
Herodotus says of the ancient Thracians—that "the most honourable life, with them, is a life of war and plunder; the most contemptible that of a husbandman. Their supreme delight is war and plunder." Who might not suppose, were the name withheld, that this had been said by some modern writer of the Pawnees, or the Camanches %
There lived a noted chief at Michilimackinac, in days past, called Gitshe Naygow, or the Great-Sand-Dune, a name, or rather nick-name, which he had, probably, derived from his birth and early residence at a spot of very imposing appearance, so called, on the southern shore of Lake Superior, which is east of the range of the Pictured Rocks. He was a Chippewa, a warrior and a counsellor, of that tribe, and had mingled freely in the stirring scenes of war and border foray, which marked the closing years of French domination in the Canadas. He lived to be very old, and became so feeble at last, that he could not travel by land, when Spring came on and his people prepared to move their lodges, from their sugar-camp in the forest, to the open lake shore. They were then inland, on the waters of the Manistee river, a stream which enters the northern shores of Lake Michigan. It was his last winter on earth; his heart was gladdened by once more feeling the genial rays of Spring, and he desired to go with them, to behold, for the last time, the expanded lake and inhale its pure breezes. He must needs be conveyed by hand. This act of piety was performed by his daughter, then a young woman. She carried him on her back from their camp to the lake shore, where they erected their lodge and passed their spring, and where he eventually died and was buried.
This relation I had from her own lips, at the agency of Michilimackinac, in 1833. I asked her how she had carried him. She replied, with the Indian apekun, or head-strap. When tired she rested, and again pursued her way, on-wa-be-win by on-wa-be-win, or rest by rest, in the manner practised in carrying heavy packages over the portages. Her name was Nadow&kwa, or the female Iroquois. She was then, perhaps, about fifty-five years of age, and the wife of a chief called Saganosh, whose home and jurisdiction were in the group of the St. Martin's Islands, north of Michilimackinac.
The incident was not voluntarily told, but came out, incidentally, in some inquiries I was making respecting historical events, in the vicinity. One such incident goes far to vindicate the affections of this people, and should teach us, that they are of the same general lineage with ourselves, and only require letters and Christianity, to exalt them in the scale of being.
The first words of men, says Harris in his Hermes, like their first ideas, had an immediate reference to sensible objects; in after days, when they began to discern with their intellect, they took those words which they found already made, and transferred Juan by metaphor, to intellectual conceptions.