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Waw’Kish

Pukúu-Wehi-Pahi

Pukúu is restoring an original California Indian Game Waw’Kish to Los Angeles

Local elders recalled the Waw’kish (shinny) game being played among the Mission Indians of Southern California in the late 1800’s. I was played by two teams of men who hit a small wooden ball about two inches in diameter with long sticks curved at one end. Points were scored when the ball was successfully hit beyond goal lines at each end of the playing field. The game could become rough as wrestling and the jostling occurred between the men as they tried to gain control of the ball. Often there was betting amongst the bystanders watching the game.

The shinny game was reintroduced in September, 1995 when Pala played against Sherman Indian High and Pala won 5-3. The renewal of the shinny game has happened because of the efforts of the Mark Macarro, Leroy H. Miranda, Jr., and Luke Madrigal. They researched the history of the game and collaborated in the effort s to revive the tradition.

Shinny begins with two team captains digging up a small hard wooden ball which is buried in the center of the playing field with their curved sticks. Points are scored when the ball is successfully hit beyond the goal pole at each end of the field.

Game Rules

  • A player cannot raise stick above their elbow.
  • A player can stop the shinny ball with his or her foot but cannot kick it.
  • A player cannot hit the shinny ball above another player’s head.
  • 2 to 10, usually play 5 per team with each team having a team captain.
  • Each team needs a colored cloth or paint to identify team members (Shinny) Elders set the rules for each game.
  • A center circle is marked out and the shinny ball is buried in the center.
  • Usually the first team to get 5 goals wins. In a traditional full court game at a team had to move to shinny ball to the opponents goal and back to your goal (10 to 15 miles on a traditional field)
  • Points are scored when the ball is successfully hit beyond the goal pole at each end of the field
  • The captains begin the game by tapping their shinny sticks 3 times and saying 1,2,3 (in language) and digging up the shinny ball buried in the center hole.
  • The field is usually about 100-300 yards long with a feathered goal pole on each end.
  • A traditional field was from 7 to 10 miles long. The field no side boundaries except physical boundaries(fenced, walls, rivers, etc)

Equipment

  • Shinny sticks are usually shoulder height with a curved end.
  • Shinny stick can be made of willow but shinny sticks made of scrub oak work best.
  • Shinny sticks can be decorated with paint or feathers (no duct tape).
  • Shinny balls are usually made of wood and sometime covered with cloth about 11/2 to 3 inches in diameter.