Marvel’s Echo is now streaming on Hulu and Disney+, and the limited series is not only a deeper character study of gangland enforcer Maya Lopez/Echo (Alaqua Cox), but it’s also a rich portrait of the Native American Choctaw nation and its culture.

Some episodes of Echo feature flashback sequences to an older era of the Choctaw tribe and one particular member, Lowak (Morningstar Angeline). Without spoilers: Lowak’s story runs parallel to Maya in the present day and helps shape a larger intersecting narrative around Echo and its finale event. 

Echo Episode 2 Opening Sequence Explained

(SPOILERS) The opening sequence of Echo Episode 2 features one of the aforementioned flashback sequences. In it, Lowak and her Choctaw tribe are engaged in a sporting game with a rival tribe – one with dire high stakes: the losing tribe gets banished from the region forever. The competitive tension of the game sparks an awakening in Lowak, activating the ancient power she’s connected to. Lowak pulls off a superhuman jump to win the game and secure the Choctaw’s place on their lands. 

The sequence is asnthrilling as the best sports movie and/or TV show action, but it also leaves a major question hanging in the air: 

What Game Are The Choctaw Playing In Echo Episode 2? 

(Photo: Marvel)

As it turns out, Echo Episode 2 is providing even more cultural education, in the form of depicting the Choctaw’s affinity for playing Stickball – a sporting event tradition that goes back centuries and is still very much a rich and celebrated part of Choctaw culture today. 

As per the Choctaw Nation official website: “Stickball stands as an enduring part of Choctaw culture not only as a sport but also as a way of teaching traditional social structure and family values… Choctaw stickball was played often in Oklahoma until the early 1900s.”

“…Tribal social customs were an important part of the game. Players went through rigorous mental and physical preparations, including fasting, dancing, meditating, and rubbing their bodies with traditional medicines. Drummers worked to set the pace of the game and highlight key plays. Alikchi, or Choctaw spiritual leaders, guided the field and sidelines. Spectators, especially women, actively supported their team and celebrated the game by dancing, singing, feasting, cheering, and gambling.”

Choctaw Stickball was also as brutal a game as Echo seemed to depict. “The traditional game had very few rules,” the site explains. “In the late 1800s, American Anthropologist James Mooney declared, ‘Almost everything short of murder is allowable.’ Play took place on a natural field with players wearing no padded clothing or shoes and wielding two Kapucha, or stickball sticks.

And if you didn’t think Echo was drawing on some very real Choctaw history – think again! 

“A particularly intense semi-annual game of stickball between the Choctaw and Chickasaw took place in 1903,” the site goes on to explain. “The game ended in a riot-like brawl involving 300 spectators. U.S. Marshalls and the Choctaw Lighthorsemen had to intervene. After the incident, the semi-annual games were abolished. Play continued, but not to the extent it had in the past.”

Today, Choctaw Stickball has enjoyed a successful revival, and is generally “alive and well in many communities throughout the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.” 

Echo is now streaming on Hulu and Disney+. 

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