Ring & Pin Game
Game image compliments
of Waaban Aki Crafting
The ring and pin game has ancient
Native American roots. Nearly Every Native nation across North
America has its particular version which uses unique materials
from the natural environment for the ring and pin. In all varieties
of this game, a ring or other target is fastened to a cord. The
target is thrown into the air and must be speared by the pin attached
to the other end of the cord. Simple targets are carved rings
of bone or hide, strings of toe bones or fish vertebra, perforated
holed skulls, dried squash rinds, or bundles of twigs or hair.
The pins were carved from long bones or antler in older times,
while metal pins have sometimes been used since contact with Europeans.
A leather or fur counterweight or loops of beads were sometimes
attached below the target. The game was often played for women's
and children's amusement and for stakes.
Among the Cheyenne of Oklahoma
and the Penobscot of Maine, this game is sometimes referred to
as a 'love game', a pastime for young men and women, as it serves
as an excuse for introduction between two people, in which a woman
could show her approval of a man by accepting to play the game
with him, and by refusing to play the game if she is not interested
in the other person. Players usually number two. Each party
gets two tries to impale the ring the greatest number of times,
after which it must be passed to the next player. In a Penobscot
version using six deer toe (phalanx) bones, each player gets ten
tosses, and the total number of bones speared by each player is
compared. However, the counts can be extremely varied in other
versions of the game. The bones usually count progressively from
the one nearest the pin. The total count of the game also varies
from 2 to 4, 50, or 100 (the most common number), up to 2000.
This version of the of the ring
and pin is called an "ecagoo" by Athapaskan Natives
of the west coast. The game consists of three small deer toe
bones fashioned into hollow cones through which a slender piece
of twisted sinew thread is passed. They are hollowed at the base
so that they fit into each other. The needle of bone is attached
to the end of the thread which is just long enough to admit the
point of the needle into the base of the first cone, where they
are crowded into each other. The object to be attained is to
pass the needle through the center o the cones or a slit in the
leather at the top as the "ecagoo" falls. In gambling,
a score is kept of the points made. The catching of the pin in
the slits scores 1, on the first cone: 5. In the first and second:
10, in all three: 15, and in the second and third: 20.
Games & Toys Bibliography and Books to Buy On-Line
Games are available from Waaban Aki Crafting; Traditional Toys and Games
© 1994- Tara Prindle.