Summit will showcase traditional, indigenous stickball games with played exhibitions and panel discussion
For the first time in over 200 years, Indigenous Stickball will be played by multiple native nations on traditional Muscogee Land in the heart of Atlanta. Organized by Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI), Addison Karl (Chickasaw/Choctaw member), and Emory University, the Southeast Woodlands Stickball Summit will showcase the history and future of the game to the public.
The stickball tournament will take place on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, and is free and open to the public. The celebratory event will welcome three Native American delegations from Oklahoma, Mississippi and North Carolina. Following an opening ceremony by the Muscogee Nation, players from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation, the Chickasaw Nation and the Mississippi Choctaw Nation will present three live exhibition games in the Historic Fourth Ward Activity Field.
“The Atlanta BeltLine is situated on the traditional homelands of the Muscogee Creek and Cherokee Peoples and we are committed to respecting and acknowledging those who stewarded this land before us,” said Nonet Sykes, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for Atlanta BeltLine. Inc. “Through our arts and culture programming, we are demonstrating our dedication to inclusion across all backgrounds.”
Stickball games will take place between 10:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. Each match will feature commentators calling the game. Spectators will learn the history and evolution of indigenous stickball through the different styles of the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw, who play the game differently.
The Southeast Woodlands Stickball Summit will conclude with an evening panel discussion about the history and future of stickball. This is an in-person event at the Carlos Museum- Ackerman Hall (571 South Kilgo Cir NE, Atlanta, GA 30322) and can be attended virtually through Zoom. Register to attend this panel discussion virtually.
“This summit is the culmination of several years of work and dedication to making actionable ABI’s commitment to elevating the voices of our communities and supporting the culture of Atlanta. This is what being in good relation, of acknowledging history, and a homecoming all wrapped into one looks like,” said Miranda Kyle, Arts and Culture Program Manager for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “Indigenous history is the history of Atlanta. Our streets, our place names, our ways of moving around the city are all rooted in Native engineering, transit and trade practices. Shining a light on this incredible and foundational sport is just the beginning of the work we must do.”
Stickball is one of the oldest sports in North America, historically played by Southeast Woodland Nations. Traditionally, both men and women enjoyed the game for sportsmanship, mental health, medicine, and even political resolution. Gameplay and stickball sticks have been handed down from generation to generation, and the game continues to be played by native nations around the country. The influence of stickball can clearly be seen in games like lacrosse, hockey, and rugby.
“When I think about this event, all these nations coming together – I know my Grandfather is smiling along with the rest of my ancestors,” said Addison Karl, the artist behind Itti’ kapochcha to’li’, currently on display alongside the Eastside Trail. “Growing up in Arizona, being so far away from our traditional homelands of the southeast, and our more recent homeland in Oklahoma – I used to stare at these sticks hanging on the wall of my Grandparents home. I would stare and imagine these incredible games that our ancestors played based on the stories that my Grandfather told. To think now, by creating this artwork, by inviting these four nations to join – I am somehow bringing that imagination alive. Manifesting the stories of my Grandfather into reality. We are writing new stories now, based on thousands of years of stories that have been told – this is good medicine that we can share with visual arts being the catalyst.”
“The summit is an opportunity for the public to learn about stickball and its cultural significance directly from four Tribal Nations,” said Beth Michel, Associate Dean of Admission for Emory University. “It is a powerful way to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, observed the 2nd Monday of October. I’m thankful to Addison Karl and Miranda Kyle for extending an opportunity to host the evening panel at the Michael C. Carlos Museum!”
Schedule of events
Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022
Historic Fourth Ward Activity Park at 830 Willoughby Way, Atlanta, GA 30312
10:30 a.m.: Opening Ceremony with Dr. Monte Randall (Muscogee Nation)
10:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Three games will be played
Follow the history of the game through play and learn about the evolution of the game through the different styles: Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. This event is free to the public.
Panel Discussion (In-person and Virtual)
Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022
The Carlos Museum at Emory University at 571 South Kilgo Cir NE, Atlanta, GA 30322
7:00 p.m.: Discussion with the featured panelists:
- Natalie M. Welch, Ph.D. (Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation), Sport Management Professor
- Addison Karl (Chickasaw/Choctaw), artist, creator of the Itti’ Kapochcha To’li’ sculpture currently on display on the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail
- Casey Bigpond (Mississippi Band of Choctaw), artist, singer, traditionalist and lifelong ball player
- Ace Greenwood (Chickasaw/Cherokee), coach, teacher, and player
- Tosh Welch (Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation), educator and player
- Monte Randall (Muscogee Nation), President at the College of the Muscogee Nation
There is no registration required to attend the in-person event. Those interested in attending virtually should register here.
For additional information on the project and for the latest scheduling updates, visit www.art.beltline.org/stickball.