First Tennesseans

How do we know about the game of Chungke?

When the first Europeans explored the southeast, the Indians were still playing Chungke. These Europeans were fascinated by the game and wrote about it in their journals. These eyewitness accounts help us to know about the game. Below is one account of the game of Chungke as it was played by the Indians.
Only one or two on a side play at this ancient game. They have a stone about two fingers broad at the edge and two spans round; each party has a pole of about eight feet long, smooth, and tapering at each end, the points flat. They set off abreast of each other at six yards from the end of the playground; then one of them hurls the stone on its edge, in as direct a line as he can, a considerable distance toward the middle of the other end of the square.
When they have run a few yards, each darts his pole anointed with bears’ oil, with a proper force, as near as he can guess in proportion to the motion of the stone, that the end may lie close to the stone. When this is the case, the person counts two of the game, and, in proportion to the nearness of the poles to the mark, one is counted, unless by measuring, both are found to be at an equal distance from the stone.
In this manner, the players will keep running most part of the day, at half speed, under the violent heat of the sun, staking their silver ornaments, their nose-, finger- and ear-rings; their breast-, arm- and wrist-plates, and even all their wearing apparel, except that which barely -cover-s their middle.
All the American Indians are much addicted to this game, which to us appears to be a task of stupid drudgery; it seems, however, to be of early origin, when their forefathers used diversions as simple as their manners. The hurling stones they use at present were from time immemorial rubbed smooth on the rocks and with prodigious labor; and they are kept with the strictest religious care, from one generation to another, and are exempted from being buried with the dead. They belong to the town where they are used, and are carefully preserved.

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