Well, since there is interest in shinny (now we are approaching good weather season), I thought I’d throw out there a slightly modified chunk of an article I wrote almost 6 years ago:
Perhaps the most popular game was shinny, the indigenous field hockey that was played in various forms throughout the west. In the Coos Bay languages the game was known as nauhina’nawas (Hanis) or in Milluk nauhi’nííwas or nauhi’nánu. In Siuslaw/Umpqua it was known as pakuu or pakuuwi. Big games were played between teams from different villages or tribes and drew lots of spectators. 6,7
The sticks used were similar to hockey sticks, with a curved bottom. They were made from a variety of different woods such as young hemlock, vine maple, or crab apple. The ball was small, no larger than 2 inches in diameter, carved from the woody roots of a black huckleberry or rhododendron and oiled with seal oil to keep it from cracking. (Ball: Hanis and Milluk k’wesis; Siuslaw/Umpqua pakwsh). The sticks were also oiled to prevent cracking of the wood.
On the shinny field, the goal poles (known in Hanis as háha) were placed several hundred feet apart. In the center of the field was a small hole for the ball to rest at the start of a game. The game began with the players pairing up in lines up and down the field, with two players acting as centers at the hole with the ball. There were no players that acted as goalies. There was no set number of people who could play on a team, anywhere from 10 to 20 people. The centers (Hanis:qa’liyawa, based on the verb ‘to dig’) crossed sticks and then began to fight for the ball. There was no foul line. Wrestling was allowed in the fight over the ball or to prevent another player getting the ball. Things could be so rough that sometimes bones were broken in the melee involving swinging sticks and wrestling! No wonder it was so difficult to score a point by hitting the goal.
Intertribal games could last as long as five days. In the evening the game would end for the day, the host villagers would feed the visitors and have round dances for a few hours. While the game was on, there were many spectators around the field, singing and laying bets on their team. Each team also would hire a shaman to work his or her power on the game.8,9
Women also made up their own shinny teams and played. Annie Peterson talked about the life of a Milluk woman nicknamed Qaishæsh, ‘shinny batter’. Here is what Annie remembers Qaishæsh reminiscence of her first game at Hanis after her husband encouraged her:
….When I was a child that (game of shinny) was what I grew up with…. Oh my husband was happy then. He helped me dress up, he put shells on my neck. Ever since I had been a child shinny was what I had played. They all hallooed (hei -applause upon my entry) when I went in to the game. Then the head woman (said) “Who will be the batter?” I raised my hand. Again the people hallooed (huhuhuhuhu – rapid, falsetto, indicating delight). Indeed now the people (women) began the shinny game. I was the batter myself…. That was when they named me Batter (Qaishæsh) because I was good at that.” 10