Williams, Jennifer

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    Traditional Indigenous forms of gambling and games
    (University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology, 2021) HeavyShield, Marley; Williams, Jennifer; Williams, Robert
    There is limited research that explores Indigenous gambling and gaming, and the research that does exist focuses primarily on problem gambling and addiction. Western understandings of gambling are not an appropriate lens to provide a full understanding of the cultural depth and meaning behind traditional Indigenous games. Indigenous gaming has existed since pre colonization and occurs in many Indigenous cultures throughout North America. The following research project explores traditional Blackfoot forms of gambling and games. The current study used a mixed methods approach to collect data on Blackfoot traditional games and forms of gambling. The first method was an anonymous, online survey that collected data on games played today and demographics. The second method was key informant interviews with Elders from the local Blackfoot community and collected data regarding the traditional context of Blackfoot games. Survey results indicate that the most common game still played today is handgame. Interview results corroborate this finding. Results of the interviews, drawn from a thematic analysis performed in NVivo 12, show that gambling, types of games and their rules, evident change, and relationships are the most prominent themes surrounding traditional games. Traditional games are multifaceted at their core and serve various meaningful purposes in the lives of players, with the majority of players viewing games positively. Through a combination of scientific methods and Indigenous ways of knowing comes a history of Blackfoot gaming, from tradition, through colonization, to the post-colonial present day – in which these games continue to provide a connection to culture, spirituality, and community for Blackfoot Peoples. By considering traditional games and forms of gambling from an Indigenous perspective, further research can be better informed when engaging with Indigenous populations and exploring Indigenous-related topics