Choctaw Ball Game; Ball Up lithograph depicts six or seven hundred Choctaw Mississippi players engaged in the Native American sport called Tolih or stickball and is considered to be one of the oldest team sports in North America. Usually there were five or six times that number of spectators. This game was not only played for recreation but also involved rigorous religious ritual ceremony. For centuries, tribes from different areas played to settle their disputes without weapons, hence stickball’s nickname, Little Brother of War. The games were also meant to toughen up young warriors for combat and could be very brutal. Betting on the outcome was very popular.
Choctaw Ball Play is a hand colored original lithograph from George Catlin’s The North American Indian Portfolio: Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America published in London by Day and Hague 1844. Lithographs drawn by McGahey and printed by Day & Hague. Original hand color. Catlin ( 1796 – 1872 ), a painter and writer, clearly recognized the demise of the American Indian tribes and was determined to record their history and customs thru his art. He spent most of his adult life traveling extensively throughout the United States living with and visiting as many Tribes as he could find. He eventually had a an exhibit of over 600 paintings and wrote many books on the Indian culture of North America. He truly believed and rightly so, that the Native American peoples were (quote)..…by nature a kind and hospitable people….. and that the Indian’s misfortune has consisted chiefly in our ignorance of their true native character and disposition, which has always held us at a distrustful distance from them…….. (end quote). Catlin’s goals were never realized in his life time but today we are fortunate to at least have this incredible record of a history worth telling. In an attempt to reach a larger audience with his message he had some of his greatest images published in the North American Indian Portfolio of which this image is one. This lithograph is archival framed and is in very good condition. A rare and exceptional opportunity to own a piece of our heritage.