The timeless art of stick making was recently demonstrated at the Choctaw Nation Career Development Center on the campus of Carl Albert State College.
Brenner Billy, a cultural trainer with the Choctaw Nation Learning and Development Department, explained that making stickball sticks is all by hand. “No machines are used, just muscle, oil, fire, and water.” He continued, “The sticks are a resemblance of family. The sticks are made in different sizes, standing for a father and a mother. The game ball recognizes a child in the family and the game itself relates to the bond of family.” Billy learned the tradition of stick making from his father, and now teaches others in order to pass the culture on to new generations of Choctaws. “Traditions such as stick making were fading, but the Choctaw Nation has worked hard to revitalize many cultural experiences.”
Billy has served the Choctaw Nation in various roles including human resources assistant with tribal government, a language instructor, and a cultural coordinator with cultural services.
According to Jennifer Roberts, a career counselor for Choctaw Nation Career Development, Brenner’s knowledge has given him the ability to hold several important positions within Choctaw Nation. In addition to her position as a career counselor, Roberts explained more about her involvement in the community. “I am also a stickball coach for the Poteau youth stickball team, Yvnnvsh Homma, which translates into Red Buffalo in Choctaw, and I am on the Choctaw Nation employee social dance troupe.”
Roberts went on to share, “We at Choctaw Nation Career Development are pleased to have the opportunity to share experiences with Carl Albert State College students and community members. Brenner really appreciated being able to come to Carl Albert and felt very welcomed.”
CASC President Jay Falkner expressed his appreciation in having the Choctaw Nation Center housed at the Carl Albert campus in Poteau. “We look forward to opportunities for our students to learn firsthand about the rich heritage and history of the Choctaw Nation.”
Pictured are Jennifer Roberts, Brenner Billy, and others assisting with the stick making demonstration.