Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Fort Mitchell in Russell County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
 

Pokkecheta, or the Ball Play

— Creek Heritage Trail —

 
 
Pokkecheta, or the Ball Play Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, February 4, 2017
1. Pokkecheta, or the Ball Play Marker
Inscription.  Pokkecheta, or the ball play, was an ancient and vital part of the social life of the Creeks and a popular game among many groups of Southeastern Indians. The game enhanced interaction between towns and provided highly ritualized sport and entertainment for spectators. Called “the little brother of war,” in prehistoric times the rough-and-tumble play had a deeper mythological meaning. In its historic version, it involved teams of 50 to 100 players from two different towns fighting to cast a small deer-hide ball through football-type goal posts erected on opposite ends of a 100- to 300-yard field. Players could not touch the ball with their hands but used hickory sticks with woven rawhide pockets at the end to throw the ball through the goal posts.
  The team that first scored an agreed upon number of goals won. All able-bodied males were expected to participate. Injuries were common and deaths sometimes occurred. Nevertheless, Indians loved the sport and often gambled extensively on the outcome. The present-day sport of lacrosse is thought to descend from the ball play.

  When the French Revolutionary
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Click or scan to see
this page online
War hero Marquis de Lafayette toured the United States in 1825, he crossed the Chattahoochee near here and witnessed a stickball game played in his honor. Gen. Thomas Woodward accompanied Lafayette and described the spectacle:

  “...About two hundred stripped to the buff, paired themselves off and went at it. It was a ball play sure enough, and I would travel farther to see such a show than I would to see any other performed by man, and willingly pay high for it, at that."

Lafayette’s secretary was also impressed by the players:

  “The game began with a war whoop, the most extraordinary modulation of the human voice that can be conceived. Chilly McIntosh, son of the well-known Coweta headman William McIntosh, scored the winning point when he detached himself from the group to some distance, returned on a run, sprung into the air, and after making several somersets, threw himself on the shoulders of the other players, leaped into the circle, seized the ball, and ...cast it beyond the mark.”

  Creeks today still play stickball, sometimes competing in tournaments against other tribal groups. The game remains a part of the annual ceremonial cycle. Games are occasionally played on this field, which is designed especially for that purpose.

[Photo captions]
{Bottom left}: Artist George
This marker is just to right of another marker about "Stick Ball." image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, February 4, 2017
2. This marker is just to right of another marker about "Stick Ball."
Catlin painted this image of a game he witnessed in 1834. Entitled Ball-play of the Choctaw--Ball Up, it provides us with one of the best known images of a game in progress.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

{Middle Right}: Marquis de Lafayette
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

{Bottom middle}: Ball players in Broken Arrow, OK, circa 1930s
Courtesy of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Museum & Cultural Center

{Bottom Right}: A Youth Social Game in the Tulsa Creek Indian Community, Tulsa, OK
Courtesy of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Museum & Cultural Center
 
Erected 2014 by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission and the Russell County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentNative Americans. In addition, it is included in the Lafayette’s Farewell Tour series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1825.
 
Location. 32° 20.644′ N, 85° 1.256′ W. Marker is in Fort Mitchell, Alabama, in Russell County. Marker can be reached from County Route 165, 2.3 miles south of Nuckols Road (Road 39). Marker is located to the back side of the Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center Monument adjacent to Fort Mitchell National Historic Landmark Site. Touch for map
Painting from marker of Pokkecheta stick ball action (marker detail). image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, February 4, 2017
3. Painting from marker of Pokkecheta stick ball action (marker detail).
. Marker is at or near this postal address: 561 Highway 165, Fort Mitchell AL 36856, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. J.W. and Ethel I. Woodruff Foundation Interpretive Trail (here, next to this marker); Indian Ball Ground (here, next to this marker); Archaeology And Our Understanding of the Creek People (a few steps from this marker); Fort Mitchell and Creek Removal (within shouting distance of this marker); The Census of 1832 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Creek Nation / The Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center (within shouting distance of this marker); Cultural Exchange and Cooperation (within shouting distance of this marker); Creek Towns (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Mitchell.
 
Pokkecheta, or the Ball Play Marker on right, past wall. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, February 4, 2017
4. Pokkecheta, or the Ball Play Marker on right, past wall.
J.W. and Ethel I Woodruff Foundation Interpretive Trail
Marker on left, just this side of wall. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, February 4, 2017
5. Marker on left, just this side of wall.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 8, 2017. It was originally submitted on March 7, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 517 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 7, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr
m=101817

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
U.S. FTC REQUIRED NOTICE: This website earns income from purchases you make after using links to Amazon.com. Thank you.
Paid Advertisements
Mar. 3, 2024