The Chunkey Symbol
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual
people and they communicated their history,
thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation
and Signs such as the Chunkey symbol.
The origin of the Chunkey symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders of North America and were major elements in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of American prehistory (S.E.C.C.). Some Indian tribes including the Creek,
Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole and Chickasaw still
retain some elements of the Mississippi culture.
Their sacred rites, myths and symbols and are
presumed to descend from the Mississippians.
Meaning of the Chunkey Symbol
The Chunkey symbol featured strongly in the
Mississippian culture. The Mississippians were a
highly competitive people and enjoyed the
challenge of high stakes gambling and
competition. Chunkey was the favorite game of
the Mound Builders.
The Chunkey symbol pictured at the top of the
page depicts a player holding a game piece
called a Chunkey stone. The player was dressed
in an elaborate fashion and the 'Forked Eye'
surround motif indicating their place on Earth
between the Upperworld and
the Underworld. The player is depicted in an
unusual shaped hat which was only ever seen on
The Chunkey Symbol
- Playing the Game
The game was played on flat, sand covered
Chunkey courts that were 200 feet long. Chunkey
was watched by huge crowds that sat on mound
stairs. The spectators wagered on the game but
the outcome of a Chunkey game could be deadly
serious. It is believed that some Chunkey courts
contained a 30-40 foot post on which the
trophies of war, such as severed heads, were
hung. Opposing teams from different regions
played Chunkey and the result determined which
leaders conquered other kingdoms. The
winning players were like the sports stars of
today and success brought them high esteem,
wealth and a high social status. The game
could be played by two players or a team. A
disc-shaped game piece called a chunkey stone
was rolled over the ground. Chunkey stones were
3 - 15 inches in diameter and made out of stone
such as quartzite and basalt. Other players
or shot arrows to indicate where
they thought the stone would stop rolling.
Whichever player’s arrow or spear that landed
closest to where the chunkey stone came to rest
was the winner.
Symbol - Mississippian culture
The most ancient Native American Indian symbols,
like the Chunkey symbol, came from the
Mississippian culture which was established in
1000AD and continued to 1550AD onward. The
Mississippian Native Americans were the last of
the mound-building cultures of North America in
the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United
States. The Mississippian culture was based on
warfare, which was represented by an array of
emblems, motifs and symbols. The Mississippian
culture warrior icons like the Chunkey
symbol provides interesting history and ideas
for tattoos that include cosmic imagery
depicting animals, humans and mythical beasts.
The Mississippian Native Americans practiced
body painting, tattooing and piercing.