• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 45s

Teams try to trick each other in Dene hand games

By Heather Hintze 9:16 PM March 19, 2014

Teams hide tokens; try to distract opponents with movement and music.

FAIRBANKS – Rhythmic drumming took over the Hering Auditorium in Fairbanks Wednesday as teams tried to outfox each other at the Dene hand games.

“It’s so fun,” said Olivia Shields from Team Alaska. “Especially when you’re winning of course. It’s so fun getting to bond with your team and you win some, you lose some, but I feel like we connect a lot more when we’re playing together.”

The four players on a team passed a token back and forth, trying to hide it from their opponents. Keeping track of it isn’t easy.

“The spirit of the drums and the spirit of the fakes and the movement that you see distracts how that person has hidden that small object,” said Chris Anderson, a Dene games official. “There are 12 sticks and the team that wins all 12 sticks wins the first match. Best two out of three.”

Girls with painted faces bounced up and down, shaking their head and hands to the music.

The hand games have a rich history, not only in Alaska but all around the Arctic.

“It was usually played after a successful hunt out on the ice or tundra. They carve up the carry and bring it back to camp. At night when everything is finished they’ll have games,” Anderson explained.  “The best players in old times go on for eight or nine hours.”

“It’s a way without having to talk to each other, to get to know each other and break the ice. So it was really a game to get closer to people without actually having to speak,” said Brian Walker II from Team Alaska.

Competitors are glad the hand games are included at the Arctic Winter Games to celebrate the traditional values from each culture.

“You get down, get into it and start dancing and just have fun,” Walker said. “That’s what this game is about is just having fun.”

It’s not only fun to keep your opponents guessing, but to dance along with the drumming that’s been a part of the game for generations.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    2016 November election: When, where and how to cast your ballot

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 18:54

    The 2016 November election is right around the corner. Early voting kicks off on Monday, Oct. 24 — just over two weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8. Who am I voting for? This is a big election year. Voters will have a number of candidates to choose from for their district’s state legislative representatives, […]

  • Police seek surveillance footage of early morning shooting near Spenard

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 18:36

    No one was injured in a Sunday morning shooting near Spenard, but Anchorage police say a parked vehicle was damaged by at least one bullet. In a statement about the incident, police said they are hoping residents in the area of Eureka Street and W 32nd Avenue will be able to provide surveillance footage or information […]

  • News

    Troopers: Kasilof man killed in late-night crash

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 14:15

    A Kasilof man died in a single-vehicle wreck late Saturday night, Alaska State Troopers report. Someone reported the wreck on Kalifornsky Beach Road to troopers around 11:40 p.m. and did not know where the driver of the vehicle was, according to an online dispatch. When troopers arrived less than 20 minutes later, they found the […]

  • News

    Report: California soldiers must repay enlistment bonuses

    by KTVA / AP on Oct 23, 11:58

    Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Los Angeles Times reports the Pentagon demanded the money back after audits revealed overpayments by the California Guard eager to fill ranks and hit enlistment targets. Faced with a […]

  • Lifestyle

    New bumble bee, flower fly species discovered in Denali National Park

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 10:48

    Two new species of pollinating bugs have been discovered in Denali National Park and Preserve, according to park officials. The new species were discovered during a 2012 pollinator survey in the park, a statement from park officials explained. “I think these two new discoveries really highlight the fact that there is still so much to learn […]

  • News

    Presbyterian church first to present statewide apology at AFN

    by Liz Raines on Oct 22, 19:50

    The Presbyterian church becomes the first religious organization to officially apologize at #2016AFN to @NativeFed for oppression, abuse. pic.twitter.com/xP3gPYPHWz — Liz Raines (@lrainesktva) October 22, 2016 FAIRBANKS – It was a historic moment for the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Saturday. For the first time, a religious organization came before an AFN convention to apologize […]

  • News

    Alaska veterans receive warm welcome home after Honor Flight

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 22, 19:05

    A group of Alaska veterans returned Saturday from Washington D.C., where they visited our nation’s war memorials thanks to Last Frontier Honor Flight. The crowd waiting for their arrival at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport applauded as the veterans disembarked to the sounds of bagpipes from the Alaska Celtic Pipes and Drums (ACPD). The 23 […]

  • News

    SAVEarth project aims to provide homeless Alaskans with boots

    by Eric Ruble on Oct 22, 18:28

    While many Alaskans are celebrating the first snow of the season, it marks the beginning of a tough time of year for people living outdoors. A group from the Lower 48 is working to help Anchorage’s homeless in a big way. SAVEarth is assembling 1,100 pairs of boots with the help of volunteers. Each pair […]