Game pieces for the Lahal tournament.

A game of Lahal

The Nak'azdli First Nation treated band members and Fort St. James residents to a traditional game of Lahal at Kwah Hall.

Jesse Cole

Caledonia Courier

With the amount of laughing, shouting and dancing at Nak’azdli Band’s Kwah hall last week you would sooner think the around 40 people gathered there were playing Xbox rather than a hundreds of years old indigenous gambling game.

Lahal (often called Slahal) is a North American indigenous game played throughout the pacific northwest primarily by First Nations communities. Due to cultural suppression in the early colonial days of Canada the game was nearly lost but has increased in prominence lately with many First Nations using the game has a fun way to introduce their culture to a younger generation and non-aboriginals as well.

The game was the centre piece at the August 14 cultural afternoon at Kwah hall with dozens of kids and adults coming out to learn about the game and take part in a mini tournament.

“It’s usually played in tournaments,” said Bruce Allan one of the Lahal teachers at the cultural afternoon. “It’s also often played after funerals. It’s a sad time so [Lahal] is used to raise peoples spirits,” he added.

Lahal is played by two teams of five or six who try to guess which hand an opposing player is holding a piece of bone in, in order to win points, represented by sticks.

“You play for 10 sticks,” said Allan. ” The idea of the game is to get all the sticks to your side.”

The game involves two sets of bones of which their is a stripped and a plain one, representing both sexes.

“The plain one represents the male bone and the stripped one represents the female,” Allan explained.

Each team is awarded a set of bones which are held behind their back and the opposing team must guess which hand the piece of bone is in. Games are usually played for money and involve dancing, drumming and singing.

Darion Tom anne Hannah Olinek were two of the younger group of people who out to take part in the Lahal tournament.

“It was a fun experience to learn some of the cultural games of our people,” said Olinek. “It was cool to see what they did back then for entrainment and for fun. Nowadays we just go inside and connect to Wi-Fi, so it was fun to learn something cultural.”

Tom echoed Olinek’s feelings saying “it was really interesting. I’ve never played it myself before this, I’ve only seen other people play and now I know how. I’m really thankful that I came, I would definitely play it again.”

With the success of the game, Alexandra Luggi, a member of the social development department with the Nak’azdli Band Office hopes to see more tournaments played and continued interest.

Cash prizes were given out to teams that competed with the grand prizes being $500, $300 and $200 for first, second and third place.

Just Posted

Highlights and winners from the Binche Fishing Derby

The third annual event was a massive succes

Buy BC relaunches to keep business local

Local farmers’ markets may benefit

Province expands program to keep youth away from gang life

The Government of British Columbia is providing $1.12 million in additional funding… Continue reading

Applications for high-speed internet in rural communities being accepted

According to a news release that was issued by the Ministry of… Continue reading

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

Jennifer Charlesworth has worked in government, social services

B.C. reporter calls out immigration photo on social media as fake news

A Vancouver reporter is calling out a British politician for spreading fake news

Hundreds of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

Out of 1,773 glaciers, 1,353 shrank significantly between 2000 and 2016

Most Read