American Indian games set for Thompson Park

JAMESBURG – The Intertribal Indians of New Jersey want the public to join them for “Indian Summer Games,” the latest installment of their monthly activities in Thompson Park.

The group will be demonstrating traditional American Indian games such as fuwaji, an Iroquois dice game, the walnut shuffle and lacrosse from 2 to 4 p.m. July 28. Members will be explaining the history and purpose of each activity.

Lacrosse is one American Indian game that will no doubt be familiar to many visitors to the park. It was played throughout the Eastern half of North America before European contact. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that Montrealers adopted the game.

“They took it to Europe and it became very popular,” said Brenda Davis, treasurer of Intertribal Indians. Unfortunately, she noted, Indians were not able to play in the games at the time because it cost money to participate.

The natives in North America would play lacrosse for several days at a time, depending on the purpose.

“It was used for recreation, but traditionally it was also used to settle disputes between villages. Those games could involve hundreds of players and last for days,” Davis said.

Intertribal Indians of New Jersey is a nonprofit organization that provides social activities and support to American Indians living in New Jersey. Members come from tribes throughout the country. The group is dedicated to educating the public about American Indian culture, and history.

The group holds its meetings at the log cabin near Manalapan Lake and opposite the animal enclosure in Thompson Park. The business meeting will start at 1 p.m. on the day of the summer games and is open to the public.

Intertribal Indians has several more events planned for the upcoming months. On Sept. 15 there will be a showing of the movie “They Lied to You in School.” On Oct. 20 there will be a lecture on the book “The Celestial Bear Comes Down to Earth.” A discussion titled “Why I’m Not Thankful for Thanksgiving” will take place Nov. 17, and on Dec. 15 there will be a demonstration of Mohawk toy making.

The series of events, which began in the spring, is funded in part by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Historical Commission.

For more information, call Mary Anne Ross at (732) 238-3792 or send an e-mail to maryanneross123@yahoo.com.