How did people entertain themselves? As they do today, many community events, pastimes, and games may have had elements of both public ritual and ceremony, as well as recreation.


Pipes made of sandstone, limestone, and clay have been found. They probably had a reed or hollow wood stem that has not survived. Tobacco may have been mixed with other plants for smoking. Tobacco was very important for Native Americans, particularly as part of rituals.

From left: Woodland clay pipe, Two Oneota pipes made of limestone and sandstone


Musical Instruments

Few musical instruments have survived, although music was undoubtedly important. We have recognized two artifact types that probably were designed to create music.

Rasp: The most common artifact is a rasp, usually made from the rib of a deer or bison. It was probably played by rubbing a stick across the grooves on the rasp. Rasps are one of the most distinctive artifacts of the Late Prehistoric/Proto-Historic period, from about 1500 to 1700 AD.

Whistle: A whistle made from the wing bone of a goose was probably played by blowing gently across the top of the hole. You can see how this works by blowing gently over top of a bottle, and seeing how the sound changes.

Rasp made from a bison rib, and found at an Oneota site in eastern Minnesota dating to about 1700 A.D.



Chunkey: A game using polished stone disks, called chunkey stones, was still being played when the first European travelers arrived in the midwest. A disk is rolled along the ground, and players attempt to throw their spears parallel to the stone's roll, predicting where the stone will finally stop. There was intense competition.

Chunkey stone found at an Oneota site