seenseewitaawi! Let’s Play Bowl Game!

Seenseewinki bowl and game pieces
Seenseewinki, ‘bowl game’, a decorated bowl and game pieces. Photo by Doug Peconge

The first game we are going to learn about this summer is Seenseewinki, ‘bowl game’. This is one of our games of chance, and though it is scored individually, you can play with as big a group as you like. 

What you will need:

Seenseewinki doesn’t require too many pieces of equipment. All you will need is, of course, an alaakani, ‘bowl’, and seenseeminiiki, ‘plum stones’. The seenseeminiiki are your game pieces, though instead of plum stones we now often use Kentucky coffee beans. 

There will be a total of eight game pieces, with six regular game pieces and two special pieces. All the pieces will be two-sided with a different color on either side.

In the picture, the colors used are yellow and red. The special pieces will have the same colors to show the different sides, but they may have a different shape or design to show their ‘special’ status. This will help you with scoring later.

How to Play:

The object of the game is to score 10 points. It is possible to go over that amount, but you’ll need at least 10 to win.

The bowl will be passed around the circle of players as each person takes their turn. 

When it’s your turn, you will need to hold the bowl and use it to toss the seenseemina into the air. They don’t need to go very high, just enough to no longer be touching the bowl’s surface. This can be a rather tricky move when players’ are first learning, so don’t be discouraged if your pieces go flying! It’s all part of the fun, and will get easier as you keep playing.

If the pieces land outside of the bowl, you’ll likely get another try if you are new to the game, but otherwise you will forfeit your turn with no score. 

When you get your pieces to land in the bowl then you can check how many points you have scored by looking at the game pieces (which we’ll cover in a moment).

When your turn is over you pass the bowl to the next player and say ašiite kiila, ‘it is your turn’. Other players can ask you taaninhswi eehtooyani?, ‘How many do you have?’, so they know your current score.

Once a player has scored 10 points they can shout eenihiwiaani, ‘I win’. 

Scoring:

When scoring you can either use scoring sticks to keep track of your points or just remember it in your head.

1 point: Two pieces will have the opposite color compared to the rest of pieces. The pieces can be either a combination of two regular pieces, or one regular piece and one special piece, but not two special pieces (that comes later).

2 points: One regular piece will be the opposite color to the rest of the pieces.

4 points: All pieces will show the same color.

5 points: One special piece will be the opposite color compared to the rest of the pieces.

10 points: Both special pieces will be the opposite color compared to the rest of the pieces.

The scoring can be a little difficult to remember at first, but the only remedy is to keep playing and soon it will second nature.

Images of bowl game pieces depicting each score
Seenseewinki score sheet

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Updated: August 5, 2022

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