Word of the week - chipewyan

Dechën Hełch’áz Hult’í

Dechën Hełch’áz Hult’í is the Chipewyan phrase for ‘Stick Pull

The concept of this individual game was (and still is) to pull a greased stick from an opponent’s hand, simulating the catching of a fish by hand. In the past, hunters would play this game after the community gathered and feasted on the food that they had provided. Sometimes, multiple Dene communities would come together to compete for the coveted stick. In modern competitions, two players stand facing one another, both grasping the stick with one hand. They then pull, hard and steady, with their hand braced against their hip, as they try to get the stick out of their opponent’s grip. Players cannot twist their arms or make body contact. They also cannot move their feet past a clearly marked position line on the floor. The stick must remain parallel to the ground at all times. The winner is the one who pulls the stick away from their opponent or who pulls the stick behind their hip, to the side of their body, for eight seconds, while their opponent still maintains a grip on the stick. The competition consists of a best of three pulls.

Thank you to Lisa Heron (video), and speakers Marlin Miersch-King, Kaysea Fountain, and Jerrica Sanderson

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