Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Games We'd Play - Yupik Style

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Even beyond the extreme subzero temperatures, especially after a long stretch of days in whiteout blizzard conditions, you'll find Eskimo children exerting pent up energy out in the arctic environs of coldest Alaska.

In Kipnuk, during recess (even in winter) we'd play hopscotch. The snow would make nice grooves where our feet would land and would help when throwing our trinkets even from afar. My favorite thing to throw was a bracelet or a little keychain because the aim would be much better than something not attached to anything.

We'd play, what we'd call "bat". There would be an "in" team and an "out" team and can be any number. All we needed was a ball and anything to hit a ball with. Kids on the out team would be spread out anywhere they liked. The "pitcher" would stand face to face with an "in" team member and just throw the ball up in the air. The "in" team member would try to hit the ball while it was in the air, and try to avoid an "out" team member from catching it. If an "out" team member caught the ball after it was hit with the "bat" - the in and out teams would reverse. The "in" team members would have to run across to a decided area and then back to get to hit the ball again. If the ball is retrieved before all the members got to the "safe" zone, the ball is thrown to any member of the opposite team not in the "safe" zone and even if it scraped a piece of clothing, the sides would reverse. There would be a lot of little rules and they would be decided before the game began. Game ended when curfew rang at 9pm sharp.

Another game we'd play was "Ak'am taigukut" -- here we come again. There would be two teams and can be any number. One team decide on a theme and then would act out whatever they were doing without using words. Kind of like charades, but with a twist. When the other team guessed what your "theme" was, the team having their turn would run to the side they came from and whoever was "caught" would now be on the opposite team until the "other" team is out of players.

Then there was "Go" - one person stands in front of others and tries to make the other members laugh out loud. Who ever laughed out loud first would get to go next. Sometimes we'd even make it to where you smiled, you had to go next. It did not count if you forgot to say "Go" when it was your turn up. And nobody told you that you hadn't said the magic word until you tried to say it was somebody elses turn. What great fun we had playing this silly game!

Another was "cavteq" -- it was played in a porch where you had an enclosed area. One person would go down the stairs and close their eyes and the others would try to find a way to hide themselves away in that very tight area from the "it" person. The "it" person would then try to find the others with their eyes closed and try to guess who they came upon. If they were wrong, they'd have to try again, if they guessed right, it would be that persons turn next.

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