Indian LIFE



by Janice Freeman

Says to "just call her Mom." She works in the grants office of Grossmont College and has been taking educational technology classes just for the fun of it. She lives on two and a half acres of weeds in Flinn Springs near Alpine with her husband and children.

Instructional Objective After playing this game, students will be able to describe early California Indian life and understand their values:

* What kind of foods did the Indians eat?

* What skills did the young people learn?

* What knowledge was passed down from older to younger people?

* What activities took up much of their time?

Indian Values The well being of the tribe is more important than that of the individual. Conservation of natural resources, and protection of the earth is important. Male and female children have distinct roles and learn different skills.

In Indian LIFE, players try to become skilled hunters and gatherers, store up food, and learn the culture of their tribe.


Learner Description Fifth and sixth grade social studies students. The students will have already studied about early California Indians before playing this game.


Rules The game will take one hour or less and can be played by two to four players.

Starting the Game Stack the red, blue, green, and orange cards on the game board. Each player chooses a marker to move, and places it on START. Each player takes 2 food cards (RED). Players each take a turn throwing 4 specially marked sticks to see who goes first. High score goes first with play continuing to the left. Players take turns throwing the sticks, and moving their markers.

Indian Throwing Sticks American Indians played a game using four flat sticks or bones about 6 to 7 inches long. The sticks are named, marked with designs, and worth points. The LIGHTNING sticks each count 1 point; the RAIN stick counts 3 points; the FOUR DIRECTIONS stick counts 4 points; the reverse sides of the LIGHTNING and FOUR DIRECTIONS sticks are blank and count 0; if the reverse side of the RAIN stick shows, the total score for that throw is 0. Possible scores for a throw are: 0, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9. (See Game Board)

Winning the Game Players try to go from START (the village) to FINISH (the eagle ceremony) and collect skill cards, culture cards, and food cards. The winner of the game is the player to reach FINISH with the most cards. After the first player reaches FINISH, the rest of the players must travel directly there on their turns, and not try to collect extra food cards. All the Indians want to attend the Eagle Ceremony!


The Game Board

GREEN skill square Players take a green food gathering skill card after landing

(food gathering) on these squares. Players need to have at least one green card before they can collect red food cards later in the game when they land on green food gathering squares. If players have two or more green cards, they will be able to collect two or more red food cards later every time they land on green food gathering squares. Skilled Indians will be able to collect more food than less skilled Indians!

ORANGE skill square Players take an orange animal hunting skill card after landing on these

(animal hunting) squares. Players need to have at least one orange card before they can collect red food cards later in the game when they land on orange food gathering squares.

GREEN or ORANGE If the player has one or more skill cards of the matching color, the

Food Gathering player gets to take one or more red food cards after landing on a food

squares gathering square.

BLUE Indian Culture Players take a blue culture card when they land on these squares.

squares Indian children learned the customs of their tribe from their elders.

Stop and Decide There are several of these squares on the board. When a player reaches

squares this square, the player must STOP and make a decision: to continue directly to the finish, or to loop one or more times around a circular path to try to gather more food. The player stops, then throws again on the same turn. Sometimes, a player is sent back to these squares if they run out of food.

Use Up Food squares Players will use up their food as they travel through life. Since these squares are red, players must give back to the stack the number of red cards asked for when they either land on or pass over these squares. If a player runs out of red food cards, that player must go back to the last STOP and DECIDE square, throw again, and try to collect more food.

Direction squares Some squares will tell players which way to go, what to do, or what is happening.

The board is a variation of the board used in the regular LIFE game. This is a race game, through time and space. Players have options to spend additional time learning more skills which will help them later in the game, or to try to reach the finish first. The goal of the players is to reach the finish with as many food cards, skill cards, and culture cards as possible. However, once one player reaches the finish, the other players must travel directly there, using up whatever food they have acquired.