Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/49

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39
SOME GAMES OF THE ZUÑI.

bacterial diseases. In this way I hope I may have been able to show you how science prepares the way for the highest branches of the art — viz., preventive, protective, and curative medicine. — London Lancet.


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SOME GAMES OF THE ZUÑI.

By JOHN G. OWENS.

PLAY finds its best exemplification in the Indian of the South-west. Living in a mild and genial climate, naturally shiftless and improvident, this true child of Nature consumes his exuberant vitality by play instead of work. Step to the bank of the Zuñi River on one of those supreme mornings in August, which only the matchless climate of New Mexico knows, and you will behold a sight which for genuine mirth and romp will surpass that of any Eastern outdoor gymnasium or children's park. The river, a stream of less than ten feet, winds like a serpent through a sandy bed about one hundred feet wide. This river-bed is the chief playground of the Zuñi child. Here boys and girls, some clad, some with only ear-rings or a chance necklace, are bathing, racing, wrestling, throwing sand, perchance riding some razor-backed hog; everywhere are life and merriment. I think it worthy of note that not once during the whole summer did I see a quarrel of any kind.

This spirit of playfulness remains with the boys and characterizes their later life. Not so with the girls. These, to the age of thirteen or fourteen, are very jolly and playful, but after that they begin to age ,very rapidly. This is probably the result of early marriage, a custom of the tribe. Zuñi seems to have no class of buxom young women; the transition is from joyous, frolicsome girlhood, to sedate and sober womanhood.

But, beside these sports of childhood, there are a few games which deserve our attention. They are not limited to any age, but, so far as I know, are confined to the male sex.

Before describing these games I wish to acknowledge the kind assistance of Mr. D. D. Graham, the trader — a gentleman of culture, who has lived among the Zuñis many years, and is perfectly familiar with their language. Although some of these games are seldom played in summer, yet through his co-operation I have witnessed nearly all of them.

Põ-ké-an. — This game is somewhat similar to our popular game called battledoor and shuttlecock. Green corn-husks are wrapped into a flat mass about two inches square, and on one side are placed two feathers, upright; then, using this as a shuttle-cock and the hand for a battledoor, they try how many times