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Zhoshke’nayabo [Snow Snake]


During Bbongises [Snow Moon] Potawatomi and other Great Lakes tribes play a centuries old sport called Zhoshke’nayabo or Snowsnake. Typically played by men and boys, snowsnake is not only for amusement, but for spiritual and therapeutic means. It is thought that the comradery amongst players remedies the sick.

Games can last for several hours and are played individually or as a team. Players are equipped with a spear-like implement called a zhoshke’nayabo [snowsnake]. Carved from local hardwoods and polished smooth, zhoshke’nayabo [snowsnake] range from two to seven feet in length and one inch in diameter.

The object of the game is for each competitor to hurl their zhoshke’nayabo [snowsnake], down an icy track, farther than their opponent. When thrown, the zhoshke’nayabo [snowsnake] is thought to resemble a snake slithering, hence the name snowsnake. The individual or team with the longest cumulative distance wins. Snowsnakes have been recorded at speeds in excess of 100 mph and traveling more than a mile.

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