Natchez – Stickball
Ambience: Shouts, chanting
It’s stickball, Native American style. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. We’re at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez Mississippi, where members of the Natchez and Choctaw tribes are playing their version of stickball.
Hutke Fields: They have two sticks with cups that are about three inches long and two inches wide. We throw a ball up in the air, and, basically, there aren’t any rules after that. There’ll be tackling and running into the back of and lopping the knees out from under folks just to get that ball.
Sam Wayde-Paden :It’s pretty much like lacrosse. You try to make it through the goal.
Ambience, voices, shouts: Throw it; throw it!
Jim Metzner: You’ve got a ball..
Sam Wayde-Paden:: Like a small golf ball. They usually put, like, a acorn in the middle of it and wrap it up. And they sew it together.
MarkSix: : The thing with a stickball field is there is no set amount on length. There is no boundaries. So, this field, if we had the room, could be up to a mile long if we had enough players to utilize a whole field.
Jim Metzner: : Can I pick up a ball with my hand and throw it?
Curtis Fields: No. You have to use the sticks.
Each player has a pair of sticks about 18″ long with a basket that’s much shallower than a lacrosse stick. It’s almost flat, like a racket and the ball is caught in the air sandwiched between the two sticks.
Mark Six : The knots that make the basket that hold the ball you can tell which tribe they belong to, and also the style of how the wood is bent. Cherokees generally have a smooth taper to where the cup is bent over and lashed back to itself. This is called a double Cherokee. It has two runs of sinew across it.
Our thanks to members of the Natchez Nation: Hutke and Curtis Fields, Mark Six, and Stan Wayde-Paden
I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.