Winter event features snakes down half-pipe

Provided photo Joey Loonsfoot lines up for his turn to slide his snow snake down the frozen half pipe as part of the second snow snake game at the Niiwin Akeea Center on Mar. 2.

About 60 adults and children gathered at the Niiwin Akeaa Center in Baraga on Saturday to play the snow snake game, said Rodney Loonsfoot, the event’s organizer.

“All of the tribes have our own version of it,” Loonsfoot said.

On Feb. 23, people gathered to make their snow snakes. The snow snakes are traditionally saplings, but any long, thin piece of wood will do. Loonsfoot said he did an activity with Baraga Area Schools where they used wooden dowels. The wood is then carved and colored to the player’s preference. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) Health System provided supplies for for decoration.

Participants also decorate another, smaller piece of wood to be used as a marker next to the snow snake track during the competition. The marker holds a position while other players toss their snakes.

This past weekend, the participants put their creations to the test. There was snowshoeing, a fire with s’mores and a chili and fry bread lunch before the game began.

Provided photo One of the the competitors in the snow snake game watches closely to see how far his carved snow snake will go.

“It’s done outside in the cold on the ice,” Loonsfoot said.

The snakes are slid down a small half-pipe made of packed snow, and the person whose snake goes the farthest wins. The competition was split among age groups and simple prizes were awarded to the winners.

“We gave everyone a chance to throw,” Loonsfoot said. “It’s an old game, something to do that’s a winter activity.”

The KBIC Health System also provided jugs of water colored with food coloring for decorating the snow banks, according to Loonsfoot.

This was the second time the game was was held. Loonsfoot said the consensus was to hold the event again. They also are looking forward to their annual Father’s Day kickball game as their next family activity.