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Pegnegewen [Stickball]


The forerunner of lacrosse, stickball is considered one the oldest American Indian sports, played in various forms by woodland tribes for centuries. The sport has three distinct regional styles [Northeast; Southeast; Great Lakes], with equipment, gameplay and fundamentals varying for each. Known to the Potawatomi as pegnegewen [stickball], games are played for recreation, communal prestige, spiritual reverence and healing.

Exclusively for males, bagjegejek [players] are equipped with their own bagwzhanatek [ball stick] and divided amongst two even teams based on their moiety, shkesh [first-born] and  kishko [second-born]. Traditionally, each team was managed by and received guidance from a mshkekiwnene [medicine man], who would sing songs of strength and protection for his players.

Pegnegewen [stickball] is played on a field comparable to a regulation football field, with a goal post at each end. In the past, fields were in excess of half a mile long, with teams comprised of hundreds of players. Points are scored by throwing a pkwakwet [ball] and striking the opposing team’s goal post, the first team to score 12 points wins.

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