The Stave Game

The stave game is an Ohlone game of chance. It was played with six sticks, usually made from an elderberry or willow tree; the sticks were small sections of branches cut in half. The round side of the stick was decorated and the flat side was left plain. The Ohlone created geometric patterns using red, black and white.

The stave game is played with six wooden staves.
The staves are each round or marked on one side, flat or plain on the other.
Counting sticks are used for keeping score, one stick for each point
The player or team who wins all the sticks wins the game.

  • One player takes all six staves in their hands and tosses them lightly in the air.
  • If they land three up and three down, the player gets one point and another turn.
  • If they land all up or all down, the player gets two points and another turn.
  • If they land any other way, the player gets no points and the staves go to the next player.


Download Ohlone pdf from Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History