For a while lacrosse was promoted as the national game of Canada. Native American teams toured Europe playing exhibition games, including one for the benefit of Queen Victoria. Then, in , the National Lacrosse Association of Canada banned Indians from championship play--officially on the grounds that the Indians were paid "professionals" not eligible for "amateur" sports.
By that time the game was catching on in North American prep schools and colleges, with a scattering of Indian varsity players at such schools as Dartmouth and later Syracuse. Today in Indian communities all over North America at the first sign of spring youngsters sally forth carrying lacrosse sticks.
Many Indian players still request to be buried with their sticks beside them. The tradition of carved wooden lacrosse sticks still flourishes as well. For many Indians in ancient days, and today as well, a lacrosse game was a ceremonial replay of the Creation story, and of the struggle between good and evil that followed it. The game could also be worldly practical--mock war used for diplomatic purposes or as a prudent step back from the threat of war. The story, retold by Vennum, of two lacrosse games played almost exactly years ago between the Mohawk and the Seneca seems to offer a case in point.
Technical Specs. The game began with the ball being tossed into the air and the two sides rushing to catch it. Edit Cast Cast overview, first billed only: Brett Sherwood A young boy's heroic journey in search of his deceased parents sets forth a series of life affirming events, changing not only his life but also the lives of others. Stickball is included as part of the tour of the Ancient Village, and visitors are invited to participate. About us History Services Calendar.
Both belonged to the powerful league of Six Nations, the Iroquois confederacy that also included the Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida and Tuscarora. The year was Chief Joseph Brant Thayendanegea, in Mohawk , a powerful chief who had sided with the British during the Revolution, was negotiating with them for land in Canada, but the site offered was unacceptable. The Seneca agreed; if they took it the Mohawk would be isolated from the rest of the Six Nations.
When Seneca intervention resulted in a better site for the Mohawk, Brant set up a ceremonial lacrosse match in part, Vennum speculates, to celebrate the Seneca help.
There was also bad blood between Brant and Red Jacket, an influential Seneca chief, going back to a time when Brant had called him a "cow killer," because it was said Red Jacket sent Seneca warriors off to battle while he stayed at home butchering their cows for himself. The match may have represented a fence-mending effort on Brant's part.
If so, it apparently hit a snag. During the game, according to a report written at the time and cited in a biography of Brant published in , a Mohawk lost his temper and "struck a sharp blow" to his opponent with his stick. All action stopped, the story goes; the Seneca team walked off the field. The Mohawk and the Seneca did not play each other again until But they kept on playing, and so did the other Iroquois nations. Lacrosse, in fact, was one of the things that helped hold the Six Nations together through the difficult years that followed.
In the Iroquois Nationals, an all-Iroquois lacrosse team, traveled to Australia for the world championship under their own flag and carrying Iroquois passports. It was quite a change after years. Subscribe or Give a Gift.
Sign up. SmartNews History. History Archaeology. World History. Science Age of Humans. Human Behavior. On Saturday, September 24, a sort of scrimmage was held. Keeping in touch with tradition, the game is played with a lacrosse-like wooden stick, and a ball that, to me, resembles a walnut.
The young players unifying at the end of their matchup. Photo by: Marcus Smith. At the end of the game, the competitors low-fived each other and placed their sticks up in the air united as to say they were one. If one is watching the game for the first time, it appears to be a combination of wrestling and lacrosse. Players also decorated their sticks or stick racks with objects representing qualities desired in the game. Strict taboos were held on what players could eat before a game, and the medicine man performed rituals to prepare players and their sticks.
The night before a game, players wore ceremonial regalia and held a special dance. Sacrifices were held, and sacred expressions were yelled to intimidate opponents. On the day of the game, teams walked to the field and were slowed by constant rituals. One ceremony was "going to water", in which players dunked their sticks in water and the shaman gave a spiritual and strategic pep talk.
Sometimes players would receive ceremonial scratches on their arms or torso. Before the game, every player was required to place a wager. Items such as handkerchiefs, knives, trinkets and horses were part of the wager. The bets would be displayed on a rack near the spectators, and items would be awarded proportionally to the winner of each quarter. When the game was over ceremonial dance took place, along with a large feast for the hungry players. Some early lacrosse balls were fashioned out of wood.
Others were made of deerskin stuffed with hair. The first lacrosse sticks were essentially giant wooden spoons with no netting. These sticks were bent into shape after being softened through steaming, and lengths typically ranged from 2 to 5 feet 1.
Some versions of lacrosse used unusual stick designs. In the St. Lawrence Valley a version was played in which the head took up two thirds of the stick. In the Southwestern United States a double-stick version was played with sticks about two and a half feet long. No protective equipment was worn in traditional lacrosse.
The first westerners to encounter lacrosse were French Jesuit missionaries in the St. Lawrence Valley.
Dec 1, Little Brother of War. Lacrosse sticks were tools of the trade in a rugged Indian game now growing popular around the world. dynipalo.tk American Indian Lacrosse: Little Brother of War [Thomas Vennum] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. To understand the aboriginal roots of .
During the s, they witnessed the game and condemned it. They were opposed to lacrosse because it was violent, betting was involved, and it was part of the religion they sought to eradicate. He described the Hurons in present-day Ontario playing "crosse" in Despite Jesuit opposition, many other European colonists were intrigued by lacrosse. Betting on games became common, and around many French colonists were taking up the game.
However, it is widely believed they could not match the skill of the Native Americans. James Smith described in some detail a game being played in by his fellow tribe members "wherein they used a wooden ball, about three inches diameter, and the instrument they moved it with was a strong staff about five feet long, with a hoop net on the end of it, large enough to contain the ball. In , Ojibwas used a lacrosse game to capture Fort Michilimackinac now Mackinac.
Natives invited the fort's British troops to watch a lacrosse game. The players gradually worked their way close to the gates, and then rushed into the fort and carried out a general massacre.
In during an expedition up the Mississippi River , U. Zebulon Pike observed a group of young Ho-Chunk also known as Winnebago and Sioux men playing this game, or one resembling it, near the east bank of the river, in what is now west-central Wisconsin. He named the region "Prairie de la Crosse", which in turn inspired the name of both the Wisconsin county and its principal city. In a team of Caughnawaga Indians demonstrated lacrosse in Montreal. Although response to the demonstrations was not overwhelming, interest in lacrosse steadily grew in Canada.
He codified the game in to shorten the length of each game, reduce the number of players, use a redesigned stick, and use a rubber ball. The first game played under Beers' rules was at Upper Canada College in During the s lacrosse became Canada's national game.