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Throwback Thursday - A Chunkey Stone and a Bottle

Playing Chunkey, insert Chunkey Stone

Throwback Thursday - A Chunkey Stone and a Bottle

In 1991, construction crews were busy at the Gundersen site (47LC394) in La Crosse. This late precontact Oneota site was known to have the potential for features and perhaps burials, so Dr. Connie Arzigian and an MVAC crew were on hand. As one of the workers was stripping soil, Connie stopped him to check out some material being exposed. Connie says, “He jumped down and we were both looking on the ground and in the spoil piles, when I pulled out a historic bottle and he pulled out a chunkey stone. We traded, so we both ended up pretty happy.” This chunkey stone is now on display at MVAC on the UW-La Crosse Campus, and may be viewed when the Covid pandemic threat is over.

Chunkey stones were used in a ritualized game by society's elite among late pre-Columbian Mississippian societies. They are a rare artifact at Oneota sites. A chunkey stone very similar to the Gundersen specimen is shown on Page 111 and a chunkey stone player effigy pipe on page 109 of Hero, Hawk and Open Hand (2004).

2004  Townsend, Richard F. and Robert V. Sharp (editors)
Hero, Hawk and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South. The Art Institute of Chicago in Association with Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Image attribution:  George Catlin, Tchung-kee, a Mandan Game Played with a Ring and Pole", 1832-3, Smithsonian American Art Museum collection, Public Domain. 

(Entry by Drs. James Theler, Constance Arzigian, and Katherine Stevenson)