Go-Wa-Sa (Snow Snake)

Like any other game, Go-wa-sa has its charms and taboos.  Sticks are believed to have their "on" and their "off" days, so each team usually has many sticks to use if their favorites are moody.  The polishing cloth, which is saturated with the swankum (secret wax) is carried nowhere but next to the skin where it can absorb the body warmth and be at the exact temperature for application.  After a stick is rubbed, it is never touched or handled with anything but special gloves, which are also carried next to the body of the player who hands the stick to the thrower.  Naturally, mumbling mystic words and phrases over the sticks improves their performance.  Knowing the kind of day the stick prefers (cloudy or bright, warm or cold, windy or quiet) is a big advantage.  In fact, there are sticks that are champions on all Fridays, and chumps on all Sundays.


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society