What Are Myaamia Games?

This year’s Eemamwiciki summer programs are going to teach participants about Myaamia games and the place they hold in our community.

Our games can look very different from each other. Some are played on grassy fields or in the snow. Some are played indoors or wherever there is enough seating for you and your friends. Some we’ve played since time immemorial and some have only been adopted by our community recently. But whatever the case, what all Myaamia games have in common is the space they give us as a community to learn and celebrate our culture while having fun.

Throughout the year we have opportunities to play different games according to the season. Here’s a breakdown of some of the games we might play throughout the year.

Winter Games

The beginning of Winter is marked by Teehkwahkahki, ‘the killing frost’. At this time we can start telling our winter stories and playing winter games.

One of the few games we can play outside during Winter is Šookwakiinki, ‘snowsnake’, which we have been revitalizing as a community over the last few years. It involves sliding a length of wood through the snow further and straighter than your opponent. Read further about Šookwakiinki here.

Player tossing a snowsnake across an open field
Šookwakiinki, ‘snowsnake’, being played at Miami University.
Photo by Jonathan M. Fox

Some games played in the wintertime can be played year-round as all you need is a group of Myaamiaki ‘Miami people’ and friends and somewhere comfortable to play. These can be played at any time, but they especially help to pass the time when the weather keeps people indoors. Some of these games include: Mahkisina Meehkintiinki ‘moccasin game’, Seenseewinki ‘the bowl game’, and Meelotakahaminki ‘straw game’.

Another aspect of many Myaamia games is wagering. As teams or individuals we can choose items to wager that will be distributed amongst the winner(s). Carefully choosing the items that are wagered shows respect to the eventual winner while encouraging socializing and re-distribution of the wealth within our community. In different contexts gambling or wagering can have a negative effect. However, in the context of our community, wagering can strengthen our bonds and can be just as important to the games as the activities themselves.

Summer Games

The arrival of Ciinkwiaki, ‘Thunder Beings’, in the form of the first large thunderstorm welcomes the summer season and brings with it a new variety of games to play.

Once the snow has melted and the greenery has returned we can start to play outside again with games like Myaamia Paaskoontia ‘Miami Tossed Ball’ and the game our community gets arguably most excited to play, Peekitahaminki ‘lacrosse’. Playing together and competing against one another helps us to strengthen our community while also having fun. Each year we also play a community game of Peehkitahaminki against our elder brothers the Seneca-Cayuga to celebrate our connection to them as well.

Myaamia and Seneca-Cayuga youth camp participants playing lacrosse
Myaamia youth camp participants playing against the Seneca-Cayuga’s youth camp in our yearly game.
Photo by Jonathan M. Fox

We have also adapted some modern games to have a Myaamia twist that allows us to play, learn, and celebrate our culture. We have added Myaamia language to card games like Egyptian Ratscrew and Go Fish and adapted the character of Fox from our Aahlsoohkaana, ‘winter stories’ in Paapankamwa Ilweeci, ‘Fox Says’ for a Myaamia version of Simon Says.

Follow along as we post more about our games throughout the summer so we can all learn and play together.

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Updated: August 5, 2022

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