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LITTLE BROTHER OF WAR
“Dad, I don’t want to play football or baseball,” I blurted out.
“Oh, what do you want to play?” he asked. “Basketball? I hope its not soccer. That’s not even a real American sport.”
“Stickball,” I said.
“Say what?” Dad replied. He almost spit out a mouth full of coffee.
“You mean running around in your shorts behind the community center on Saturdays? That’s not a real sport.”
“Actually it is a real sport, and I’m talking about playing on a team that will compete at Choctaw Fair next summer.”
Dad slammed his fist down on the table. The plates and glasses shook. I almost jumped out of my seat.
Sixteen year old Mississippi Choctaw Randy Cheska lived most of his young life in the shadow of his older football-hero brother, Jack. After Jack is tragically killed while serving in Iraq, Randy's father puts even more pressure on Randy to excel in football. Randy has absolutely no desire or skills to play high school sports but when he discovers that he's good and stickball and loves the game, Randy jumps at the chance to play when its offered. His father considers the sport a relic of the Choctaw past when it was known as the Little Brother of War and used to settle disputes between communities. For Randy, stick ball provides him with a new sense of self-worth and a new direction in life.
Gary Robinson is a writer and filmmaker of Cherokee and Choctaw descent. He has spent 25 years working with American Indian communities to tell the stories of Native people. His previous works include From Warriors to Soldiers and The Language of Victory. He lives in rural central California.