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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Traditional Hand Games Open To All
by John VanPool - Citizen Potawatomi Nation

While regalia, dancing and drumming are a focus of the powwow on Saturday night of the three day CPN Family Reunion Festival, Friday night offers attendees an opportunity to compete and win prizes to the beat of a different drum. To participate, all one needs to do is join a team and follow a simple set of instructions.

Though each year many teams are already organized prior to Festival between families, legislative districts and other associations, individual hand game players can still find a team, as an at-large team is always put together the night of the competition. The hand games are a traditional Potawatomi game played between different bands, clans and families and involved wagers placed on each team.

One individual from a team called a picker competes against two from the opposition, called hiders. The hiders each have a bead, which they mix up between their hands behind their back. Once ready, they put their hands forward and the picker from the other team points with a decorative stick at which hands they believe the beads are in.

The hidden beads can only be hidden in one of four combinations; inside hands, outside hands, left hands or right hands.

To score a point for their team, the picker must correctly choose the two hands the beads are in, with no credit earned for one correct hand. Games go to a score of nine, but can sometimes take up to an hour.

Throughout the competition, in which several games take place at the same time, a drum circle and singers serenade the games. With so many teams taking place each year, the games can last for several hours. Prizes are distributed to the winning team, though nothing can top being known as the CPN Hand Games champions for the whole year. If you would like to watch or participate in the Hand Games competition, report to the Round House next to the CPN Powwow arena following dinner on Fri., June 26, 2015 where Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett will begin the competition.

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