By Steve Swogetinsky

Kemper County Messenger

Stickball season gets under way this week for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians with its youth division to be contested as part of the State Games of Mississippi.

Stickball is a traditional game for the Choctaw Indians which dates back for centuries. Instead of wars, disputes between communities were settled by stickball games. It is described as the little brother of war, and it lives up to its reputation each year. According to Choctaw information, games were first recorded in the 1700s, but most likely games were played much earlier. It is held annually as part of the Choctaw Indian Fair.

Eight teams made up with players aged 9-13 years of age will start play Thursday night at Choctaw Central High School. The schedule is as follows:

6 p.m. – Oka Homma vs. Pearl River

7 p.m. – Nanih Waiya vs. Bok Cito

8. p.m.  – Tiak Hikiva vs. Koni Hata Osi

9 p.m. – Warriors vs. Beaver Dam

The semifinals will be Friday night. The Bronze Medal game will be Saturday starting at 7 p.m. followed by the Gold Medal game at 8 p.m.

Stickball competition for the older divisions – Men’s, Women’s Men’s 35 and Over and Youth 14-17 will get under way Monday, July 3. The teams will compete throughout that week and the next with the championship games being played as part of the annual Choctaw Indian Fair.

“Some of the teams have been practicing since February,” said Jerod Thompson, recreation director for the Tribe. “This is a big deal. They don’t care if a hurricane is coming, they are ready to play.”

This will be the 68th World Series of Stickball tournament. Pearl River is the defending Men’s champion, having defeated Koni Hata 2-1 last year.

Oka Homma is the defending Women’s champion, having defeated  Bok Cito last year.