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These Cherokee Cave Inscriptions Describe a 19th-Century Stickball Game


The competition took place on April 30, 1828.

Thirteen years ago, a historian and a photographer working in Manitou Cave, on the side of Lookout Mountain in present-day northern Alabama, recognized a set of Cherokee inscriptions on the cave walls. This week, translations of those inscriptions appear in the archaeology journal Antiquity. According to those translations, the inscriptions are a unique record by the Cherokee of a ceremonial stickball game that took place in and near the site.

“When I went in this cave it kind of got me—it didn’t feel like the people who were writing on the wall were from hundreds of years before us,” says Beau Carroll, who translated the inscriptions, with the help of Cherokee scholars, for his master’s thesis in anthropology at the University of Tennessee. “It felt like it moved from their hands to my eyes,” he says.

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Tags: #archeology, #indigenouspeoples, #sports
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