Museum to hold intro to hand games this weekend

A file photo of hand games taking place in Fort Smith in 2018
A file photo of hand games taking place in Fort Smith in 2018. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Yellowknife’s Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre will host a beginners’ hand games workshop in partnership with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation this Sunday.

Teams of four or five family members or people in the same bubble are welcome to take part. Registration is free. The event is part of this month’s Naka Festival, a series of cultural and arts events throughout March with a loose collection to the Northern Lights.

Mike Mitchell, who curates the museum’s public programs, said the event wouldn’t resemble a traditional hand games setting but would give people a first experience of how to play.

“It’s not a tournament or hand games event like most people would understand. It’s to give people a taste and appreciation for how important hand games are to Indigenous people,” Mitchell said.



Spectators won’t be allowed, participants must wear masks, and there’ll be drumming but no singing.

Teams must remain at least 10 feet apart from each other while playing.

Despite those pandemic-related restrictions, Bobby Drygeese – who’ll be helping to coach participants – said he expected an entertaining afternoon.

“It should be fun, teaching people about some of the signs and how and why we do things, and the traditional aspect of it,” Drygeese said.

“It’s a chance to teach people about who we are and the people in this area, and make sure that everybody understands.”

The event runs from 1pm till 4pm on March 21, 2021 at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.