The snow snake game has been played throughout North America for one thousand years or more, wherever there is enough snow to warrant playing the game.
Most Native American snow snakes are quite long, from four to as long as ten feet, often thrown down a special lane made in the snow. They are usually made of a foot or more long pile ofsnow100-200 yards long, and some even up to one miles. A long is placed on the top of the snow and dragged the entire length back and forth until you have a smooth gutter for the snakes to go down.It is by no means downhill, but follows the rise and dip of the land. Since the course is frequently laid out by the edge of a road, the trough often contains many curves.
The Abenaki game and snow snakes are somewhat different from the general pattern. Snow snakes are recorded by Euro-american observers from the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people and the Abenakis at Norridgewok, Maine.Most of the snow snakes of Wôbanakik are shorter than those of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) or more western native people (Games, mudcat [short] snowsnake).Except for an exceptional five to seven foot example from the Passamaquoddy people, and a short Penobscot 14 1/2" long example, most snow snakes are 18"-24" long.Among the numerous shapes are two named varieties, the spoon mouth (called mquonin Passamaquoddy) and snake head (called atosis in Passamaquoddy).
Some have a pewter or lead weight cast into the head (Games,snow snake head). These are fine wood shop projects.Make the snakes from maple, birch or ash about 7/7" - 1" wide by 1/2"- 5/8" thick.Carving is optional but does not improve the distance of the throw.I have made mine longer, about 3 feet long, so they will be more competitive with other Native Nations'snowsnakes, but the design is up to you.
To make a good snake takes about two years because for at least one year the wood must remain soaking in oil so that it will take the highest possible finish. After the oil-soaking process thesnakeis rubbed and polished for months, each maker using a wax of his own particular choice of ingredients. Sometimes the formula has been handed down through the centuries and is a closely guarded secret.
The object of thegameis to throw your "snake" along the trough at a really fast speed. Teams alternated tosses. The distance that your snake traveled was added to your team score. Whichever side had the longest total distance or the best score was the winner.
The idea to bring the games back was from resigned Chief Brian Chenevert and approved and set up by the Koasek Tribe. Don’t worry, there is no loss of life…LOL.
The Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation cancelled the 2013 Snow Snake Games due to lack of snow.