Indigenous LA: The Ulama Court
Submitted by Josef Bray-Ali, Los Angeles
I have a degree in Anthropology, so this idea really stood out as a way of coming to terms with this region’s history, and a means of showing that history to future generations through the playing of an ancient and wholly indigenous game.
How about building an "Ulama" court somewhere in the park? Ulama is commonly referred to as "the ballgame played by Native Americans."
The game, or forms of it, have been around for over 3,500 years. It is still being played, but only in a few small villages in western Mexico.
There used to be an Ulama court in the Los Angeles area (built by the Chumash out at Malibu point).
Ulama courts, in Mexico, are called "tastes" (TA-stays). They don’t come anywhere near the size and maintenance requirements a football, baseball or soccer field would require.
Cal State Los Angeles has two of the world’s foremost Ulama scholars at its campus. James Brady (Archaeology) and Manuel Aguilar (Art) recently completed a round of Ulama-based research in 2003.
I’m not much of a visionary, but I have spent my whole life in Los Angeles, and I feel that we need some legitimate means to allow people here to become "natives" of this region – to connect with its history, natural and built environment.
Here are some links that might help you get a better idea about Ulama, and whether or not it might have a place in the new park to be built downtown:
- A general guide to the ballgame
- Dr. Brady and Dr. Aguilar’s "Projecto Ulama" Web site
- An Archaeology magazine article titled "Extreme Sport" by Colleen B. Popson
Let us know what you think about this proposal
and send us your own ideas, too!
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