Game Ball
Background Information

The traditional St. Lawrence Island Yupik ball was decorated with white bleached seal skin and red-dyed seal skin leather. Long ago, women used reindeer hair or other stuffing to make a very tight traditional ball. Some women put several stones inside a ball to add weight and create a rattle when the ball is moved.

Brief Description

This unit is designed for adults and for students in grades 9-12.

Your students will need one to two weeks to complete the sewing and learn to play a game.

Students will learn how to make a game ball, or aangqaq. They will learn some of the games traditionally played with the ball. They will explore how those games were both learning experiences and ways to bind the community together. They will learn Yupik vocabulary related to game balls.



1. The ball games played by the Yupik people of St. Lawrence Island serve two functions: as learning experiences and as social activities that bind the community together.
2. The art of seal skin game ball-making requires both technical skill and knowledge of the environment.


1. How do ball games serve as learning experiences?
2. How do ball games serve to bind a community together?
3. How do you make a game ball?
4. What characterizes a beautiful and well-made game ball?


1. the location of St. Lawrence Island and basic cultural information about the Yupik people of the island;
2. materials used in St. Lawrence Island game balls;
3. games played with the ball;
4. a game chant that is sung while playing with the ball;
5. vocabulary


1. make a leather ball from either seal skin or commercially- tanned leather;
2. identify appropriate stitches to use in making a game ball;
3. play a game with the ball;
4. sing a song or chant associated with one of the ball games.

Buy the complete curriculum and patterns

Check out the other activities:

Lydia Apatiki Sewing

The creation of this curriculum was supported by Kawerak, Inc., First Peoples Fund, CIRI Foundation, Bering Sea Lions Club, Partnow Consulting, and Gales Communications and Design. We are thankful to those who assisted in the coordination and development of the curriculum: Alice Bioff, Patricia Partnow, George Stransky, Carol Gales, Lisa Ellanna, Colleen Reynolds, Tanya Wongittilin, Vera Metcalf, B. Yaayuk Alvanna Stimpfle, Dianne (Igluquq) Okleasik, Donna James, and Patti Lillie. We are also very grateful for the approval and support from the Native Community of Gambell.