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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma will host an Intertribal Men’s Stickball Tournament on April 27, 2013. The event will be held outdoors, at the Celebration Grounds of the UKB Tribal Complex.  Registration starts at 9 a.m. with the first game to begin at 10 a.m.  The public is invited to witness this ancient tribal game of stickball. Bring your own chairs. Concessions will be available.  Stomp dance following tournament.

Stickball has been a tradition of southeastern tribal cultures for hundreds of years. Traditionally, it was a sport played among men to settle disputes with other tribes and tribal towns.  Teams could consist of hundreds of players on the field at one time.

Using only their sticks, made of hickory or bois d’arc wood, each team tries to score points by hitting the opposing team’s goalpost with a ball about the size of a golf ball. The ball is made from a rock or stone covered with animal hair and deer hide and is never touched during the game by the player’s hands.  Games would sometimes end in serious injury or even death.

Today, stickball continues to be a rough game but is played socially by both men and women.  Keetoowah women are allowed to touch the ball but do not use sticks. There are few rules and rules differ among the tribes.

“The John Hair Cultural Center and Museum is happy to sponsor this traditional event,” said Ernestine Berry, Executive Director.  “Not only are we providing a place for tribes to play, we are teaching the public about an ancient tradition of Keetoowah Cherokee culture, as well as bringing public awareness to our museum.”  The JHCCM opened in October 2011 with a mission to educate the public about the history, customs and traditions of the Keetoowah Cherokee people.

The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Admission is free.  For more information about the Keetoowah Cherokee culture call 918-772-4389 or visit www.ukb-nsn.gov.