the Tasholiiwe 'splash' screen


Note: The images and concepts on this homepage and subsequent pages are copyrighted: copyright 1996 P.S. Neeley, all rights reserved.

. . . And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Man, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe . . . At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless.

(the words of Chief Seattle, of the Suquamish Tribe, 1786 - 1866)

Tasholiiwe for Windows. A game of the ancient Anasazi

Southern Utah. Lake Powell's Hall's Creek arm, within sight of 'civilization' and Bull Frog Marina just across the lake:

A hapless boater takes an afternoon hike to natural bridges clearly shown on the map just off and up from the lake shore. Well, a least that -was- the plan . . . but he misses the mark, and unknowingly veers south up deep into the Water Pocket Fold of the San Rafael Swell. Midst the deep crevices and slick rock of 'The Fold' he finds the remains of an Anasazi shaman, dead for a 700 years, and discovers that, as Chief Seattle a White Man's dream . . .proclaimed, 'the dead are not powerless'.

'Tasholiiwe is Zuni Indian for 'wooden dice', which is also the name of their version of this game. But this is far from an exclusively Zuni game. Take a map of the U.S. and divide it roughly in the middle -- right through the Great Plains -- forming a west and east half. This game, Tasholiiwe, under various names and forms, was played by many of the tribes inhabiting the western half of the division from very ancient times. Its most notable and prominent forms come from the Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, and Kiowa Apache, but many other tribes had versions -- the Laguna, the Commanche, the Cheyenne, the Keres, the Walapai, the Havasupai, the Tigua, the Shoshone, etc., etc. It is a very ancient, and venerable, game and may be older than even the Anasazi themselves who surely played it.

Tasholiiwe was used in a religious and ritualistic sense for divination -- the throw of the sticks was thought to be able to tell the future -- forecast war or peace, prosperity or famine, joy or sorrow. It is said that even today, the game is used by many of the Pueblo tribes to bring rain. Cushing wrote (see Culin p. 215):

"It is played at such times as a tribal divination; a forecast for war or peace, for prosperity or adversity, and is accompanied by tribal hazards and gambling. But at other times it is played for the determination of peace or war, of direction or precaution to be taken in defensive or offensive operations or preparations. As thus played, there must be four participants. Each possesses his own canes. In the uppermost room of the pueblo (now fallen), there was formerly a shrine of the game. Here during terrible sand storms or at night the players gathered to divine."

This version of Tasholiiwe is an attempt to combine features of the game as played by many tribes, in many forms, into one coherent game under the 'guise' of being the Anasazi version. It is only a guess -- it has characteristics of all of them, but exactly matches none of them. But, it is a game that surely the Anasazi would recognize if not claim as their own. I have done the best I can.

Tasholiiwe was played in the Americas anciently, certainly before Christ. Now it is here again in the present, recreated through the magic of electrons and phosphorus, for you to play. Welcome to a game of the ancient, and modern, Americans -- the Anasazi, the Navajo, the Apache, the Hopi, the Zuni, and now you!

Download it right from here (tasho.zip -- 1.91MB)

Interested in just the rules and history of the game?  Then download just the Windows Help file if you'd like.

Note: This program requires that VBRUN300.DLL exist on you system.


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the tasholiiwe playing board