By Stewart Culin

From Games of the North American Indians, 1907

The sport or game of throwing two or more balls into the air at the same time has been observed among the Eskimo and an adjacent Algonquian tribe, among the Bannock, Shoshoni and Ute (Shoshonean), and among the Zuñi. There is no indication that it was borrowed from the whites, and further investigation will doubtless result in its discovery in other parts of the continent.


NASCAPEE. Ungava, Labrador.
Mr Lucien M. Turner [1] says:
While walking out the girls generally toss stones or chips in the air and strive to keep at least two of them up at once. The Eskimo often practice this also, and, as it appears to be a general source of amusement among the Innuit, I suspect that the Indian borrowed it from them.


ESKIMO (CENTRAL). Cumberland sound, Baffin land, Franklin.
Dr Franz Boas [2] says:
A third game of ball, called igdlukitaqtung, is played with small balls tossed up alternately from the right to the left, one always being in the air.
ESKIMO (ITA). Smith sound, Greenland.
Dr A. L. Kroeber [3] says:
The Adlet among them also juggle, some with as many as five pebbles at once.


ACHOMAWI. Pitriver, California.
Dr J. W. Hudson describes these Indians as casting up lenticularly-shaped stones over and over, juggling.


BANNOCK. Fort Hall reservation, Idaho. (Cat. no. 37066, Free Museum of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania.)
Two perforated marbles collected by the writer in 1900. They are called marapai and are said to be used in juggling.

SHOSHONI. Wind River reservation, Wyoming. (Cat. no. 36882, Free Museum of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania.)

Figure 931

Set of three gypsum balls (figure 931), name tapa, 2 inches in diameter.

Collected by the writer in 1900. They are used by women in a juggling game, described by Dr George A. Dorsey [4] as follows:

Occasionally rounded, water-worn stones are used. The Shoshoni name for the game is na-wá-ta-pi ta-na-wa-ta-pi, meaning to throw with the hand. The usual number of balls used is three, although two or four may be used. The object is to keep one or more of the balls, according to the number used, in the air by passing them upward from one hand to the other, and vice versa. after the fashion or our well-known jugglers. The balls are about an inch in diameter, and are painted according to the fancy of the owner, one of the sets collected having been painted blue, another red, while a third set was white. Contests of skill with these balls are occasions of considerable betting among the women, stakes of importance often being wagered. The usual play of the game is that two or more women agree upon some objective point, such as a tree or tipi to which they direct their steps, juggling the balls as they go. The individual who first arrives at the goal without having dropped one of the balls, or without having a mishap of any sort, is the winner of the contest... All Shoshoni who were interrogated on this point declared that the art of juggling had long been known by the women, and that before the advent of the whites into Wyoming contests for stakes among the women was one of their commonest forms of gambling. This game was also observed among the Bannocks, the Utes and the Palutes...
UINTA UTE. White Rocks, Utah. (Cat. no. 37121, Free Museum of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania.)
Figure 932

Set of three red clay balls (figure 932), 1.5 inches in diameter. Used by women in a juggling game. Collected by the writer in 1901.


ZUÑI. Zuñi, New Mexico. (Cat. no. 8085, Brooklyn Institute Museum.)
Figure 933

Four red clay balls (figure 933), 2 inches in diameter.

Collected in 1903 by the writer, to whom they were described as follows:

Women make balls of red clay as big as hens' eggs for the boys to gamble with. They use two, throwing them up and keeping one in the air. They keep count, and the one who scores the highest wins. The game is called ha it-zu-lu-lu-na-wai; the ball hai-muk-kia-ma-wai.


Ethnology of the Ungava District, Hudson Bay Territory. Eleventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, p. 821, 1891.

The Central Eskimo. Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, p. 570, 1888.

Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, v. 12, p. 300, New York, 1900.

Journal of American Folk-Lore, v. 14, p. 24, Boston, 1901.

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