Aboriginal students share a tradition that spans generations

TRU students and staff invited to learn the game of lehal during Aboriginal Awareness Week

Students from across TRU were invited to participate in last week’s Lehal games. (Kasahra Atkins/The Omega)

On Friday March 2, teacher Justin Prairie Chicken invited TRU students to partake in the Aboriginal game of lehal as part of Aboriginal Awareness Week. There was a handful of students in attendance from different bands and cultures. The game included guessing and music. Songs from all nationalities were welcome.

The game of lehal is known across various bands in Canada, all with varying hand signals and names. Justin Prairie Chicken recalls learning about the game from his grandfather.

“He told me that this game came from mother Earth. It was Coyote who got the game and gave it to the people,” Prairie Chicken said.

The game starts with two teams, each playing their drum and singing. Ten sticks are in the middle, five blue and five red. There are two sets of blocks, that traditionally would have been bones, one clear and one with a black strip. The game itself involved chance and guessing, while one team holds the bones in their hands, the other team has to guess which hand has the clear bone in it.

It wasn’t long before everyone was laughing and following along with the music. Justin Prairie Chicken explained that the game has been played for a long time and for various occasions. In this game the students played with five sticks per side while at a funeral, or celebration or anything involving a ceremony, the game is played with six sticks per side. The game ends when one side has all the sticks, acquired when the other team makes a guessing mistake.

The game ended with a win on the opposing team and everyone began to share stories about the game and family. There was sharing of music from different bands and people. The event was enjoyable and informative, with all participants learning a new game or improving on their existing skills.