Chickasaw Culture Keepers

The game of chunkey was a regular part of life for Chickasaw ancestors, including Isaac Kemp's, and today he's helping to preserve the tradition by sharing its history. While there isn't an exact date for when Chickasaws and other southeastern tribes began playing the game, it's known that "chunkey goes back to prehistoric times ... [Chickasaws] just kind of have been playing it forever," Isaac says. Two warriors, two spears and one stone make up the game and the goal is to land your spear tip as close to the stone as possible. Chunkey requires stamina, and "the people that played it back then would have been on the same level as Olympic athletes, because that's how hard it would have been."

Chunkey games were large, important events and when warriors from various villages would challenge each other, people came from near and far to trade, make bets, support their village and watch from the sidelines as the competitive game was played indefinitely. Today, sharing the history of chunkey and teaching others how to play is important to both Isaac and the Chickasaw Nation. "[Chunkey] is something that we've had for years, something that was almost taken away from us, and to be able to have this today and to show not just other people in our community but people all around the world what this game is, is very very important to us. And to me personally."