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Stick Gambling Championship: A Historic Article by Chief Franklin Roberts

It is with great pride that the community of Selkirk Indian Band announces the beginning of the first Annual Stick Gambling Championships.

Historically, the game of Indian stick gambling has held important sporting and cultural significance to the aboriginal people of what is now known as Yukon. The popularity of stick gambling was legendary. In the old days people would literally walk for days upon days to convene on the site of competition. The stakes were high with fur, blankets, guns and other valuables often changing hands many times before the final outcome.

It has been a long time since there was a large scale gathering of people from all over to enjoy the excitement of “professional” - level stick gambling. On occasion when there has been small events of stick gambling its' popularity amongst all people, Indian and non-Indian is still clearly evident. The excitement created by the beating of the traditional drum and the dance like motion of the stick gamblers has not diminished through the years.

Fort Selkirk and the Selkirk people of the area have long been recognized for their skill at playing stick gambling. Long before the coming of the White man stick gambling contests of major proportion were held on the banks of the Pelly and Yukon rivers. People from afar from the lands now known as Yukon, Alaska and Northwest Territories would travel and test their best players. The Selkirk Band feels strongly that events of such cultural and historical significance should be actively promoted and encouraged. Many of the best old time sick gamblers are getting on in age and it is important that this art not be lost.

In order to keep this art alive we feel that an annual gathering of stick gamblers throughout the Yukon, NWT, and Alaska competing for prizes would not only keep it alive but also make it more exciting. We are therefore inviting you to come and participate in keeping this art alive.

The championships will be held at Minto Landing which is approximately 24 miles south of Pelly Crossing. In the past, many gatherings such as General Assemblies have been held in Minto with great success.

The dates of this event will take place from august 5th – 7th. . You will be required to bring your own camping necessities. We also ask that each team bring a gift symbolizing their community which will be exchanged amongst the participants. We also request that if possible, each team bring their own drum or other instruments. The registration fee is $100 and this will go towards the large feast of traditional foods we plan to server on Saturday, August 6th. Deadline for registration is July 15th. You can register by phoning Selkirk Indian Band.

For your conveniences, we will have a canteen in Minto to serve you with hot dogs, hamburgers etc. But if you wish to go elsewhere for refreshment, etc, the store in Pelly Crossing will be open. There is also a restaurant 2 miles south of Minto where you are also welcome to go.

Along with the canteen we will be selling souvenir sweatshirts with an emblem on the front by the late Wilson Silverfox. For those of you who don't know Wilson, he was the pride of our community. He did us proud by creating beautiful songs and picture. But these are just two of Wilsons talents, Wilson became the most popular person in our community; not only was Wilson very talented but he was also very friendly and outgoing. He was often heard doing our community report on CHON FM. To show how proud we are of him, we will be holding these championships in his memory.

I'm sure that you agree when we say that the art of stick gambling should be kept alive and we therefore look forward to having your participation.

Yours in Unity,

Chief Franklin Roberts, Selkirk Indian Band

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