Native American Stick Game

The first activity the Cub Scouts did at our Language & Culture station at Twilight Camp was learn a Native American game. This game was common throughout tribes of the Southwest, with tribes in other parts of the continent playing a version as well.

To play, you need six sticks and ten items to serve as counters. We used craft sticks (affiliate link) and lima beans. Decorate one side of each stick, leaving the other side blank. Use the opportunity to show photos of ceremonial clothing and other decorative items from a variety of Southwestern tribes and incorporate those designs when coloring the sticks.

Now you're ready to play!  The game is very easy. Player A picks up all the sticks and holds them vertically in one hand, about 6 inches above the ground, then drops them. If all 6 sticks land with the design-side showing, A takes 3 lima beans.

If all 6 sticks land with their plain side showing, the player takes 2 lima beans.

If 3 sticks land with the decorated side showing and 3 with the plain side showing, take 1 lima bean.

If any other combination happens, the player earns no lima beans. Now it's Player B's turn. He drops the sticks and takes either 3, 2, 1 or 0 lima beans. Continue alternating play. Eventually, the common pot of lima beans will be gone. At that point, a player who earns beans takes them from the opponent. The winner is the person who eventually has all 10 beans.

The boys loved it. Here's Trevor and his partner, just starting out. Trevor earned the first bean with this half-up-half-down toss.

This boy said, "Noooooo!" every time he didn't score. He was so into it!

Tomorrow I'll share another of the games I taught, a strategy game from India.


  1. It sounds like fun...I love those painted sticks! :)

  2. Cool! I will need this for my home work!

  3. I’m doing this as my barters day project at school

  4. Used your game for a culture class Friday afternoon activity... They loved it.


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