Forty teams from the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and northern Alberta converged on Behchoko, NWT, on March 16, 17 and 18, 2012 to take part in the annual Canadian Aboriginal Men’s Hand Game tournament. Behchoko is a Dene community located about 100 km northwest of territorial capital Yellowknife.
The teams compete by trying to guess in which hand the opposing team players hold a token. The players, backed by a cheerleading group of drummers, use elaborate hand gestures to confuse the opponents and to call the play.
Accompanied by deafening drumming and rhythmic chanting, the opposing teams take turns at hiding tokens and guessing in which hand the players from the other team have hidden the tokens.
In the past Dene hunters played this game for matches, ammunition or pelts. These days the winners walk out with a large cash prize.
For more on the rules of the hand game, click here.