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SDSU Extension Releases Dakota and Lakota Traditional Games Resource Guide

December 31, 2019

BROOKINGS, S.D. - SDSU Extension recently released a resource guide on traditional Dakota and Lakota games. The free, downloadable guide contains six traditional Dakota games and six traditional Lakota games, including photos, instructions on how to play and how to craft the game pieces.

“The resource is easy-to-use and promotes physical activities for families, teachers in classrooms, tribal programs, and museum presenters, among others”.

— Prairey Walkling, SDSU Extension Family and Community Health Field Specialist

Content was provided by Jeremy Red Eagle, member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate who is currently employed at the Sisseton Wahpeton College as an apprentice learning the Dakota Language, and Mike Marshall, a Lakota artist of the Sicangu Lakota. The project was coordinated by Walkling.

A partner in these efforts is the International Traditional Games Society of Montana, which aims to recover, restore and re-introduce traditional games. The games were once taught for survival, but today are often played for fun. 

“Within SDSU Extension’s Healthy Food, Families & Communities project, we are using traditional games as a strategy to increase physical activity in communities that are high-risk for chronic diseases related to obesity,” Walkling said. 

Bringing back traditional games helps restore cultural capital to indigenous peoples. The First Peoples of the Americas had thousands of diverse games, some of which were the foundation of modern games including baseball, cricket, hockey and soccer. 

“Traditional games offer mental, physical and spiritual benefits. They are also very versatile, as many game pieces come from nature, allowing them to be implemented with minimal resources and played any time of the year,” Walkling said. 

The Dakota and Lakota Traditional Games Resource can be found at the Extension Games Resources page. For more information, contact Prairey Walkling by email or at  605.394.1772. If interested in a traditional games presentation, contact Mike Marshall by email or 605.208.4144. 

Funding for this project was provided by 1416 Grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the SD Department of Social Services, Office of Economic Assistance as part of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed).