The Triumphs of Stickball within the Native American Choctaw Nation

Overview and Objectives

Overview and Objectives

This Learning Center provides the earliest historical references of Native American Choctaw stickball, an activity that has been a part of the Choctaw culture for hundreds of years. The first official account of the historic game was made by a Jesuit priest in 1729. At that time, the Choctaws lived in settlements located throughout southern Mississippi. When unpleasant issues arose between the individual communities, stickball games provided a peaceful means to settle the disputes. These hard-fought athletic games would involve as few 20 or as many as 300 players.

 Enduring Understandings:

  • The recreational game of stickball is a predecessor to modern day game of lacrosse.
  • Stickball has changed over the years in both practice and its role in society.
  • Traditional beliefs about stickball's origins affect the way the game is perceived in the past and the present.

Time required:

5 class periods (based on 50-minute periods).

Classroom resources:

Smart board

       Video clips of Native American Choctaw stickball tournaments

       Internet websites

       Stickball equipment

       Photographs of stickball teams (Choctaw Tribal Community teams) and games

       News and journal articles on stickball

       Stories on stickball


       Map of Mississippi

       Measurement tools for calculating distance of the ball thrown from the sticks


Learning Objectives:

  • Students will map the history of stickball to the modern game of lacrosse.
  • Students will define the role stickball held and holds in Choctaws society.
  • Students will research how stickball influenced other Native American groups.
  • Students will learn traditional beliefs about stickball and their effects on the game from past to the present.

Background Information

Background Information

Stickball has been a part of the Native American Choctaw life for hundreds of years. The earliest accounts of stickball were made by a Jesuit priest in 1729. At this time, the Choctaw people lived in towns and villages scattered along southern Mississippi. When issues arose among the various towns, stickball games were used as a peaceful way of settling the disputes. These hard-fought competitive contests involved as few as 20 players and as many as 300 players.

Today, opposing teams use the hand constructed sticks or kabocca made from hickory, and a woven leather ball or towa made from deer hide to play the game. Each team attempts to advance the ball down the playing field to the goalpost of the opposing team using only the kaboccas. The towas are never touched or thrown. Points are scored when a player hits the opposing team's goalpost with the towa.

The rules and the layout of the playing field have been modified throughout the centuries of play. Today the game of stickball is one of the major components of the Choctaw Indian fair. The Choctaw communities compete for the championship title that will be displayed and discussed throughout the next year.

Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategies

These activities could be  adapted and designed to include a sport which is native to the particular region or Native American culture in which the teacher lives.

1. A video clip of a Native American Choctaw stickball game will be viewed on the smart board in order to introduce the lesson. (See the embedded clip on the Background Information section of this learning center.) Engage in a discussion of: rules of the game; team members and composition; team positions; length of game; playing field; scoring, etc. could expand from the viewing.


2. Those students living in Choctaw country will see stickball game equipment. A student volunteer stickball player will be asked to explain the following:

  • Wood that is used to make the stickball sticks or kaboccas.
  • Procedure used to make the sticks in which the wood is bent to form the kabocca or stickball stick.
  • Steps used to secure the leather in the  cup of the stick.
  • A description of the process used to make the  towa or leather playing ball will be given.
  • The steps used to serve the ball to the opposing team will be discussed.

3. Students who do not live in Choctaw territory will research the game on the Internet (see Resources page of this learning center) and download photographs or drawings of the equipment. Students will research, read, and discuss the history of the game of stickball from the past to the present.

4. Use a map of the state of Mississippi for students to:

  • locate and plot the seven communities of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Tucker, Pearl River, Conehatta, Red Water, Standing Pine, Bogue Chitto, Bogue Homa)
  • chart the various colors that represent the individual communities
  • identify the names of the stickball teams that represent each community in the annual stickball tournament. Go to the following web site for information on this topic: 

5. Various stories about the game of stickball will be read and discussed within the class. (This can be teacher’s choice, using resources listed on the Resources section of this learning center.)

6. Create an original narrative experience about playing in a stickball game, attending a stickball tournament, or the most memorable story experience that has shared about playing stickball. (Fictional or personal)  (This activity could be adapted to any sporting event that is indigenous to a particular culture or region.)

  • The stages of the writing process will be utilized to create this original genre.
  •  A rubric will be used to critique the original composition.

7. If possible, students will go to the football field for a stickball demonstration by a volunteer player.

  •        Correct way to hold the sticks
  •        Rules of the game will be reviewed
  •        Serving of the ball
  •        (This activity could be adapted to any sporting game indigenous to a particular region - baseball,  football, soccer, throwing of rabbit sticks, blowing dart from a blowgun, etc.)

8. Each student will be given the opportunity to serve the ball from the goal line of the football field. (Any playing field or open area could be utilized.)



9. Have students measure, calculate, and record the distance the ball travels using various instruments of measurement. Draw a chart to be used in the classroom for a math extension.


10. Undertake a scientific discussion of motion, force, and transfer of energy applied to the stickball or towa.


11. Research the evolution of stickball into lacrosse.  

12. Have students incorporate the use of musical drums and chants during the stickball game.



I.   Assess answers to the following questions. Individual teachers will determine the level of mastery for the learner:

  1. How did the recreational game of stickball act as a precursor to modern day lacrosse?
  2. What were the cultural results of the development of stickball for the Native American Choctaws?
  3. What influences did the creation of stickball by the Mississippi Choctaw have on other Native American Indian groups?
  4. Discuss the history and evolution the game of stickball from past to present in essay form.
  5. What traditional beliefs surround the game of stickball?

II.   Assess students' accuracy in plotting the seven participating Choctaw Communities  on a map of Mississippi:

  1. Bogue Chitto
  2. Bogue Homa
  3. Conehatta
  4. Pearl River
  5. Red Water
  6. Standing Pine
  7. Tucker

III. Use the following (or create your own) rubric to assess original students' creative compositions following the stages of the writing process.

IV.  Determine the accuracy of measurement of throwing stickballs, baseballs, footballs, etc.

V.   Explain the sceintific applications of motion, force, and transfer of energy in the game of stickball.



½ point

1 point

Sentence structure

Student sentences are not complete, they are short and the verbs do not agree with the pronoun. Common mistake with present simple “to be” and simple present.

Sentences are complete and well structured. The verbs agree with the pronoun and the usage of the “to be”, present simple and present progressive is correct. 

Word choice

The selection of the vocabulary is poor but well applied. They use few adjectives to describe the celebration they chose. They make several mistakes.

The selection of the vocabulary is more complete and is well applied. They still make mistakes but not as many.  They use more adjectives to describe the celebration they chose.

Introductions sentence and description

Students are not able to use an introductory sentence in their writing. They begin by describing the celebration in 4-5 sentences

Students introduce the celebration in one complete sentence. After the introductory sentence they begin describing the celebration in 6-7 sentences. 


They use one, poor, not well structured sentence to express, in a very limited, way an opinion.

They use more than one complete sentence to express their personal opinion. The conclusion is not as limited but has few mistakes.


Students present their writings written in computer, using the correct font that has been required. No clarity and cleanness.

No folder.

Students present their writings in computer, using the font that has been required, clarity, cleanness and the assigned color folder.



Academic Standards

Academic Standards

National Standards:


English Language Arts

1.   Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an under-

standing of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States; to

acquire new information; and for personal fulfillment.

2.   Students read a wide range of literature.

3.   Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other reader and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and other texts.

4.   Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for a variety of purposes.

5.   Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

6.   Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions, media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.

7.   Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources to communicate their discoveries in ways that suite their purpose and audience.

8.   Students use a variety of technological and information resources to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

9.   Students develop an understanding of respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.

          12.   Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own




1.   How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial



Fine Arts: Music

4b. Students arrange simple pieces for voices or instruments.

4c. Students use a variety of traditional and nontraditional sound sources when

     composing and arranging.

9c. Students compare in several cultures of the world, functions music serves,

     roles of musicians, and conditions under which music is typically performed.


Fine Arts: Visual Arts


                1b. Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art

                  media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their

                  experiences, and ideas.

4b. Students describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural




·     Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates (Student will select appropriate methods and tools for computing, estimation, calculators, or computers, and paper and pencil depending on the situation, and apply the selected methods.


Physical Education

6.    Respect for others by demonstrating understanding and respect for

differences among people in physical activity settings.

7.    Understanding challenge – understands that physical activity provides

opportunities for enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction.




2a. Develop an understanding of motions and forces.

2b. Develop an understanding of the transfer of energy.



                1a. Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of

                  technology systems. 

            1b. Students are proficient in the use of technology.

            3a. Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and

                  promote creativity.

            5a. Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a

                  variety of sources.

Native American Choctaw Stickball Pictures

Native American Choctaw Stickball Pictures