Kids to Learn Historic Alutiiq Disc Throwing Game

Kakangaq game pieces from the Karluk One site. Photo courtesy of Alutiiq Museum
Kakangaq game pieces from the Karluk One site. Photo courtesy of Alutiiq Museum

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

An event at the Alutiiq Museum this weekend will give kids a chance to learn a game Kodiak children have played for hundreds of years. It’s called kakangaq.

Amy Steffian, Alutiiq Museum chief curator, says they know the disc-throwing game is at least 600 years old. She says players spread a sealskin on the ground and place a small wooden target on it the size of a silver dollar.

“Players on either side of the sealskin throw a disc, a wooden disc at the target, and what’s interesting about the discs is that we find them in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Many of them are sort of a trapezoid shape, some are rounder, but they may be quite large, even the size of a salad plate, or small, like something that would fit in the palm of your hand.”

Steffian says players get points for how close they make it to the target and whether they land on it.

She says Alutiiq children also liked darts, dice, and toys.

“A girl might play with miniatures of scoops and buckets and things that her mother would use, a boy might learn about warfare from miniature clubs and shields. We found those kinds of toys in archaeological sites on Kodiak.”

Some games, like kakangaq, were traditionally played by boys, but both genders now enjoy it.

Kids will try their hand at that game on Saturday, and will also have the chance to test their spelling abilities with word puzzles and their observation skills in a museum-wide scavenger hunt.

The gaming begins at noon and continues until 4 p.m.

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