Moccasin Game History

The moccasin game may have originated in the late 1700’s or very early 1800’s, from a surprise encounter between two hunter warriors from two tribes who spoke different language and had different traditions and culture.

These two tribes would at times have disputes over territorial and hunting rights, otherwise they coexisted comfortably. On one occasion when the two tribes were on a fall hunt to have a supply of meat for the winter, two hunter warriors of one of the tribes spotted a very large herd of elk in a semi-forest, bushy area, one of the hunter warriors started back for the main camp to bring as many hunters that were available. The other hunter warrior followed the elk, marking the trail as he went being very careful not to spook the elk out of the territory. At the same time two hunter warriors of the other tribe spotted the same herd of elk and one of them also went back to his camp to bring as many hunters as possible.

The two hunter warriors who were trailing the herd of elk unknowingly were in the same vicinity and both came out of the brush, into a small clearing. The encounter was a complete surprise, which normally would bring on actions that would lead to terrible consequences for either one or both.

The two hunter warriors were mindful of their mission and realized the death of one or the other or both would mean the denial of a large supply of meat for their tribe.

One of the hunters suggested that each put four moccasins in a row in front of them, hide an object under one of the moccasins; the other would find a stick or any such object to strike the moccasin that he thinks the object was hidden under.

They both agreed they would take all their arrows and put them together at one end of the row of four moccasins and at the other end of the moccasins they would put their knives, hatchets and other things they valued. Whoever won all the combined arrows would be the victor and would claim the arrows, the knives, the hatchets, the elk or anything else he demanded, even the other warrior’s life. But after playing this game for a long time, the two warrior hunters became friends and agreed that this was the way they should settle future disputes.

These were the times when warrior hunters on a long journey carried extra moccasins to replace the ones worn out. This story of the origin of the moccasin game was told by a Mdewakanta Dakota Elder by the name of Eli Taylor from Sioux Valley, Manitoba, Canada who passed away on January 10, 1999 at the age of 92.

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