Are you ready to hold the earth in your hands?
A fish, a watermelon, and a really big ball (smukw) were some of the things I discovered on Seabird Island. This is the heart of the Sto:lo nation, and their kids showed me a few of their traditional games (sxwi'walum). Some were messier than others.
I started off by pushing around the biggest ball I’ve ever seen used in a game. An Earthball is 6 feet in diameter (fit that into the back on the minivan, mom), and used to be made of buffalo gut. You aren’t allowed to kick the ball, which was hard for me considering all my years as a soccer superstar, just kidding. So I got a chance to shove the ball around, and work on my team building skills.
Next up was a chance to get a bit oily. In the game Slippery Fish you have to pass a salmon along a line of kids as fast as you can. It teaches you about the hard work our ancestors did to feed their families. These days they have replaced the fish (selhtun) with a greasy watermelon. This is the only game I played where I had to wear an apron.
Before my trip was done I also had a chance to try out knobbies. This used to be only played by women, but they now let guys join into the fun. Knobbies is played with a stick (pi'kwum) and two balls attached by a leather sack. This one was a bit tricky, and I think I need a little more time before I can go pro.
At the end of the day, all that watermelon and slippery fish left me with a warrior sized appetite.