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Their Towns and Traditions
One of the most popular Indian games was "chunky" or "chungke" and involved tossing lances at a rolling stone disk. Does this sound like any game you have ever played?
The purpose of this game was to improve an Indian's aim at a running object, in addition to providing relaxation. The chungke stones used in this game were highly prized and kept from generation to generation as town property.
In 1775, an English trader named James Adair wrote this recollection of the game of chungke:
The warriors have [a] . . . favorite game, called Chungke . . . . They have a stone about two fingers broad at the edge, and two spans round: each party has a pole of eight feet long . . . . One of them hurls the stone on its edge, in as direct a line as he can, a considerable distance toward the middle of the other end of the square: when they have run a few yards, each darts his pole anointed with bear's oil, with a proper force, as near as he can guess in proportion to the motion of the stonewhen this is the case, the person counts two . . . In this manner, the players will keep running most part of the day, at half speed, under the violent heat of the sun.
Try playing the following version of a game that is over 300 years old! Get together three of your friends, then divide into teams of two. Use a piece of wood to make a stake in the ground. Use two flat smooth rocks for the throwing pieces. Take turns tossing the rocks at the stake while running slowly toward it. You should still be some distance from the stake when you make your throw. The team whose rocks come the closest to the stake the most times wins. Do you know a game that resembles this early Alabama Indian game?
Visit the Indian gallery at the Alabama Department of Archives and History to see several chungke stones that are over 300 years old.
Students could research any of the following topics, using Bartram or other early writers as a primary source: Native agriculture and food preparation; the impact of the deerskin trade on historic tribes; the dress and ceremonies of the historic Creeks.
Refer to "Alabama's Musical Heritage" in the Supplemental Resources section for examples of Indian music.
Two videos by Auburn Educational Television provide an excellent overview of Alabama Indian culture. Lost in Time covers the earliest Indians of the state, including the Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian peoples and provides information on their lifeways. The First Frontier traces the history of the Creeks and other historic tribes and their interaction with white traders and settlers. It concludes with the American "Civilization Policy," and the forced removal of Alabama's native peoples from their homeland. Both videos are available through the Alabama Humanities Resource Center (205-558-3980 or http://www.ahf.net/AHRC.htm) or Alabama Public Television APT Classroom (1-800-239-5233 or http://www.aptv.org/Classroom/index.asp).
Many historic sites, including Horseshoe Bend and Old Mobile, have web pages. These and other frequently changing sites can be accessed by searching for "Creek Indians," or through related links from the Alabama Department of Archives and History web site (http://www.archives.alabama.gov/teacher/netres.html#Ala Indians).