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Trainers as Containers of Cultural Knowledge

7/29/16 in Round Valley Indian Tribes, CA under Dreamstarter






Round Valley Indian Tribes, CA

My Dreamstarter Project was to bring back the Kyin-naal-del’ (Wailaki Stick Game) to my community by teaching the game to the young boys in the valley. The game hadn’t been played in living memory, but was contained and remembered in the Wailaki language we are reviving.


While our goal was to train the young boys to play the game, we needed young men to be the teachers and role models for the younger boys.  I asked for volunteers to help me and about seven young men, my schoolmates, agreed to be trained and help train the boys.  I also recruited a well respected elder, Eddie Whipple, to be the lead mentor, knowing that Eddie’s experience with coaching and lifelong involvement in youth sports could be an anchor for our developing team.


We invited two Tolowa Deeni trainers, representing the Warrior Institute, to train our trainers.  On April 22, 2016, Guylish Bommelyn and Jaytuk Steinruck conducted a Training of Trainers camp for this Dreamstarter project.  Through hands-on interaction with youth, we were trained on how to run a training camp.  They also showed us how to carve sticks and tossels for the game.  It was pouring rain, but we had a lot of fun that day.

After receiving our training, we’ve sponsored six stick game trainings for our youth and two tournaments.  Our team of trainers are now our resident experts on how to play the stick game, what the cultural norms and rules are for the game and how to teach

 the stick game to young boys.

We have created a “Kyin-naal-del’ Club” at Round Valley High School to continue the stick game past the Dreamstarter grant and provide leadership opportunities for young men who want to support the Kyin-naal-del’ stick game.      

We are proud, as young men, how we’ve learned how to play the stick game, teach the game and bring back this sport that connects our community with it’s culture.  Our team has changed a little over this year, with a few members leaving and recruiting new members; we will miss the trainers no longer able to train, but know they will always carry the knowledge of this cultural game with them.

Our team was invited to train at a neighboring school in Laytonville, CA.







Dreamstarter Team also trained at our local TANF Rites of Passage event. 







As a 2016 Dreamstarter, I am grateful to my fellow trainers for helping me implement my Dreamstarter project and for their willingness to take on the role of a “container of cultural knowledge.”  I am also thankful to Running Strong for American Indian Youth for supporting me, and providing leadership opportunities to our team of young men.

Read more about Blaze and the Kyni-naal-del' (Wailaki Stick Game)

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