Welcome back to the Indigenous Speakers Project. Brenner Billy is our speaker today, a stick maker from Oklahoma. Brenner, formerly associated with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, currently works for East Central University. Let’s kick it over to him so he can tell us about the word, “Ishtaboli.”
Indigenous Speakers Project: Brenner — Lacrosse History
“The term is ‘Ishtaboli.’ This word means ‘little brother of war’ in English. This is roughly what we call “stickball” in Oklahoma for short. Ishtaboli, in our culture, and in our past, is actually an alternative to war. Our Southeastern Tribes always knew that we were relatives in a way, and so to have less bloodshed and settle our disputes in this manner was to have Ishtaboli. Today, some of the contemporary ways to say stickball also in our language in Chahta Anumpa (“Choctaw language”) are ‘Kapucha’ or ‘Kabocha,’ depending on where you’re from in either Oklahoma or Mississippi. Stickball today is on the rise and growing very, very fast, especially in Oklahoma, and there is more openness and community games. Even across the states, there are Choctaw members getting more in tune and more familiar with the tradition and their heritage. Here, the sticks are an extension of your hands, and we know we can never touch the ball with our hands. And we’re still playing very passionately and physically today on the field without any padding. We use both sticks to pick up the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball. It’s all hand-eye coordination just like lacrosse, but we have a little bit more control in my opinion in picking up and running with the ball. The thing is, though, once you have possession of the ball, we move our guard with our hands away from our bodies. Here, we still tackle as we do in football, and we don’t necessarily hit the individuals with the sticks. So again, ‘Ishtaboli.’ The ‘little brother of war’.”
– Brenner Billy
Brenner Billy is an amazing stick maker and has produced some of my favorite sticks in my collection. I think he did an amazing job. This project is to give over a platform to indigenous speakers and people who want to share their culture with the rest of us here in the lacrosse community.on LaxAllStars. And if you guys would like to be that person, feel free to email me by clicking here. Take care. Keep LAXin’.