The Games

The Dene had many games that fostered strength and agility, patience and teamwork. The five games I have chosen are those that make up the Arctic Winter Games.

The games also transmitted Dene worldview and as such contain many elements that help children and adults learn to relate to each other and understand the world. The following are a list of 10 reasons why I think teaching Dene Games is an important component for Dene language and the Dene culture:

  1. Dene games are a way to transmit Dene worldview They teach people physical skills of dexterity, eye hand coordination, stretching and agility, but they also teach people how to relate to one another, how to have fun, how to test oneself, how to be a good sport and demonstrate fair play.
  2. When non-Dene teachers embrace elements of Dene culture it communicates to Dene and Non-Dene students that this culture is valuable and worthy of inclusion. Too often Dene students never see their culture valued at school.
  3. These games allow students an opportunity to participate outside; therefore students experience the outdoor classroom.
  4. These games provide many opportunities for leadership development and peer cooperation skills. Activities such as the pole push require students to work in small groups and compete as a unit.
  5. These games are wonderful elements of positive good mental health. The games are fun and allow students to laugh and be amused by each other, key components of building self esteem and youth spirit.
  6. These games allow demonstrate different abilities and strengths. Too often only a small range of academic skills are honored at school. Dene games allow students to excel in ways that they may not excel in the regular classroom.
  7. These games promote community relationships with our school, and welcome parents and Elders to see their culture, their traditions in the school. It is a source of Dene pride and cultural reflection.
  8. These games are lifelong activities and promote lifelong physical activity. They require minimal equipment or facilities and can therefore are not expensive like many other sports.
  9. These games provide a way, especially for adolescents, to test their abilities of strength, agility, endurance, patience all of which are important in life on the land and in the community.
  10. These games reinforce the power of Dene culture and the traditional ways that people were able to have fun on the land.

Before you try these games, it is important to read carefully how they are played, and how to prepare yourself to avoid injury.

Masi Cho.