For the first time in over 200 years, three Native American delegations will come together on Muscogee land to partake in a stickball summit.
Rich in indigenous tradition, stickball is one of the oldest sports in North America. It has a steep historical ties to Southeast Woodland Nations. Gameplay sticks often pass from generation-to-generation as a cherished token of the game.
“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.” said Miranda Kyle, arts and culture program manager for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc (ABI).
ABI will host the Southeast Woodlands Stickball Summit at the Historic Fourth Ward Activity Park on Oct. 15.
This free event will be open to the public and begin with opening ceremonies at 10:45 a.m.
“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 Kyle.
Three Native American delegations from Oklahoma, Mississippi and North Carolina will participate in three stickball games.
“I want to be sure that people understand that Native American culture is still alive and well and actually thriving in many ways, especially when it comes to cultural gatherings and events like stickball, where we have fun,” said Natalie Welch, sports management professor from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation.
“I used to stare at these sticks hanging on the wall of my grandparents home,” said Addison Karl, the artist behind Itti’ kapochcha to’li’, currently on display alongside the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. “I would stare and imagine these incredible games that our ancestors played based on the stories that my grandfather told.”
An evening panel discussion will also be held at the Carlos Museum at Emory University.
The panel will provide more context into the history and different styles of stickball, which include Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw.
“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, which is observed on the second Monday of October.”
Panelists will include:
- Natalie Welch, sports management professor with Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation
- 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
The Southeast Woodlands Stickball Summit will take place at 830 Willoughby Way from 10:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 15.
The evening panel discussion will begin at 7 p.m. This event can be attended in-person at the Carlos Museum at Emory University, or virtually via Zoom by registering here.
For additional information, click here.