Haidas are very competitive and we love to gamble. Two Haida gambling games are the stick game and the dice game.
Haidas are very competitive and we love to gamble. Two Haida gambling games are the stick game and the dice game.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

There are two teams, one player from each team plays at a time. Since this game requires concentration, the teams try to distract each other with songs and dances.

The stick game is played with a beautiful set of 40-60 five inch carved sticks. All but one of the sticks has a pattern painted on them. Like a deck of cards, there are four groups of sticks with the same pattern painted on them. The blank stick is called djil, or bait.

Player One grabs two handfuls of sticks and shuffles them under a cedar bark mat.

Player Two watches his opponent carefully and selects the hand he thinks the djil is in.

Player One dramatically throws the sticks on the mat to see if the blank stick is there.

If the blank stick is there, Player Two gets the bundle of sticks.

If the blank stick is not selected, Player One wins nothing.

Each player gets a turn until one of the players loses all of his sticks. Sometimes gamblers will lose many of their personal possessions in the game.
There are two teams, one player from each team plays at a time. Since this game requires concentration, the teams try to distract each other with songs and dances.

The stick game is played with a beautiful set of 40-60 five inch carved sticks. All but one of the sticks has a pattern painted on them. Like a deck of cards, there are four groups of sticks with the same pattern painted on them. The blank stick is called djil, or bait.

Player One grabs two handfuls of sticks and shuffles them under a cedar bark mat.

Player Two watches his opponent carefully and selects the hand he thinks the djil is in.

Player One dramatically throws the sticks on the mat to see if the blank stick is there.

If the blank stick is there, Player Two gets the bundle of sticks.

If the blank stick is not selected, Player One wins nothing.

Each player gets a turn until one of the players loses all of his sticks. Sometimes gamblers will lose many of their personal possessions in the game.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Haida caribou skin bag with painted killerwhale design; used for holding gambling sticks.

Photo: Haida Gwaii Museum

no 1.700
© Haida Gwaii Museum


Sticks

Haida gambling sticks with painted designs.

Photo: Haida Gwaii Museum

no 1.702.
© Haida Gwaii Museum


The dice game gu’ tgi q!a’ atagan (they throw it to each other) is another Haida gambling game, mainly played by women. The game is usually played in the smokehouse. The winner smears the loser’s face with soot.

1. Player One holds the die by the thin side and throws it onto a mat.
2. If it lands on the cross-hatched side, Player One gets no points and she gives the die to Player Two.
3.If the die lands on the long side or concave side with the X-pattern, the player gets two points and takes another turn.
4.If the die falls on the bottom, the player gets four points and takes another turn.

Each player continues to throw the die until it lands on the cross-hatched side and her opponent takes a turn.
The dice game gu’ tgi q!a’ atagan (they throw it to each other) is another Haida gambling game, mainly played by women. The game is usually played in the smokehouse. The winner smears the loser’s face with soot.

1. Player One holds the die by the thin side and throws it onto a mat.
2. If it lands on the cross-hatched side, Player One gets no points and she gives the die to Player Two.
3.If the die lands on the long side or concave side with the X-pattern, the player gets two points and takes another turn.
4.If the die falls on the bottom, the player gets four points and takes another turn.

Each player continues to throw the die until it lands on the cross-hatched side and her opponent takes a turn.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

dice

Rolling the dice

Photo: Haida Gwaii Museum

no 1. 698.
© Haida Gwaii Museum


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe two traditional Haida gambling games, and how they are played
  • Relate Haida games to games played in one’s own culture

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