The Eastern Woodland region of North America is bordered by: the Subarctic to the north, the Plains to the west, the Southeast to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. This area includes the Iroquoian (e.g., Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora) and Algonquian (e.g., Ojibwa, Odawa, Potawatomi, Algonkian, Abenaki, Mi’kmaq) language groups. The information provided here is only a sampling of First Nations games information. We encourage you to learn more about these and other First Nations games and athletes from across North America. For more information visit or write to your nearest Cultural Centre or Museum!
The Eastern Woodland region of North America is bordered by: the Subarctic to the north, the Plains to the west, the Southeast to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. This area includes the Iroquoian (e.g., Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora) and Algonquian (e.g., Ojibwa, Odawa, Potawatomi, Algonkian, Abenaki, Mi’kmaq) language groups. The information provided here is only a sampling of First Nations games information. We encourage you to learn more about these and other First Nations games and athletes from across North America. For more information visit or write to your nearest Cultural Centre or Museum!

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Bone and Toggle

Close up of the bone and toggle game, a test of hand-eye coordination

Photography of Mark Barrowcliffe
Woodland Cultural Centre

© Woodland Cultural Centre


Bone and toggle or ring and pin were indoor games for the Eastern Woodland Natives. The bone and toggle was made using a bone or sharp stick with a leather string usually made of deer hide. On the string were weights, bone or antler pieces and on the end was the target, usually a piece of leather with holes in it. The object of the game is to put the bone or stick through the holes of the leather piece. This hand game helps children develop hand-eye coordination and accuracy.
Bone and toggle or ring and pin were indoor games for the Eastern Woodland Natives. The bone and toggle was made using a bone or sharp stick with a leather string usually made of deer hide. On the string were weights, bone or antler pieces and on the end was the target, usually a piece of leather with holes in it. The object of the game is to put the bone or stick through the holes of the leather piece. This hand game helps children develop hand-eye coordination and accuracy.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Bone and Toggle

While touring the museum, some students take a stab at the bone and toggle game.

Photography of Mark Barrowcliffe
Woodland Cultural Centre

© Woodland Cultural Centre


Many Woodland Nations played a version of the dice or deer button game. The materials used were usually very similar however, the rules varied from nation to nation. The pieces used were made from deer or elk horn and shaped into small 2.5 centimetres (one inch) circles. Designs would be burned onto one side of the button or game piece. Beans were generally used as counters to keep score. The game could be played with two or more players and was enjoyed by both men and women.

The pile of beans would be placed in the centre, and when a player scored they took the beans form the centre to put them in their own pile. Each player would take their turn to throw the buttons, like dice, onto the table or playing surface.

When playing with 8 pieces, scoring was as follows: if 7 turned up the same and 1 different, the player was awarded 4 beans from the pile. If all 8 were the same they received 10 beans, if they had 6 the same, they took 2 beans. No points were awarded for 5 and 3 combinations or 4 and 4. Once all the beans were gone from the centre, players took beans from each other until one person would hold all the beans.
Many Woodland Nations played a version of the dice or deer button game. The materials used were usually very similar however, the rules varied from nation to nation. The pieces used were made from deer or elk horn and shaped into small 2.5 centimetres (one inch) circles. Designs would be burned onto one side of the button or game piece. Beans were generally used as counters to keep score. The game could be played with two or more players and was enjoyed by both men and women.

The pile of beans would be placed in the centre, and when a player scored they took the beans form the centre to put them in their own pile. Each player would take their turn to throw the buttons, like dice, onto the table or playing surface.

When playing with 8 pieces, scoring was as follows: if 7 turned up the same and 1 different, the player was awarded 4 beans from the pile. If all 8 were the same they received 10 beans, if they had 6 the same, they took 2 beans. No points were awarded for 5 and 3 combinations or 4 and 4. Once all the beans were gone from the centre, players took beans from each other until one person would hold all the beans.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Jeu de boutons en bois de cerf

Try your luck with the deer button game.

Woodland Cultural Centre

© Woodland Cultural Centre


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Define Eastern Woodland peoples;
  • Describe two Eastern Woodland games played indoors, including rules of play, necessary materials, and the skills practised.

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