Karuk Ball Game Team

Karuk ball game team.

Courtesy of National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian Institution.

Klamath River, Humboldt County, California, UNITED STATES
N35826
© National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian Institution.


One of the events to be featured at the North American Indigenous Games is the game of Field Lacrosse, which has been played in one form or another by Native Peoples all across North America. Each community has its own style of play, variation of the basic equipment, mode of dress, and its own ceremonial and social activities associated with the game. In addition, lacrosse might be seen as being related to many different ball games played throughout the Western Hemisphere, (including both Central and South America), whether it be the games played on a court somewhere in Meso-America with a rubber ball or those played by Native communities on the pacific coast of North America.
One of the events to be featured at the North American Indigenous Games is the game of Field Lacrosse, which has been played in one form or another by Native Peoples all across North America. Each community has its own style of play, variation of the basic equipment, mode of dress, and its own ceremonial and social activities associated with the game. In addition, lacrosse might be seen as being related to many different ball games played throughout the Western Hemisphere, (including both Central and South America), whether it be the games played on a court somewhere in Meso-America with a rubber ball or those played by Native communities on the pacific coast of North America.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

The Iroquois call lacrosse "Tewaarathon", or "the little brother of war". Preparations for the game were much the same as those undertaken by warriors as they prepared to go to war. Warfare was one of the most important ways in which young men were readied for their roles in the community. It was believed that playing lacrosse could instil these same valuable lessons.
The Iroquois call lacrosse "Tewaarathon", or "the little brother of war". Preparations for the game were much the same as those undertaken by warriors as they prepared to go to war. Warfare was one of the most important ways in which young men were readied for their roles in the community. It was believed that playing lacrosse could instil these same valuable lessons.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

For many Native communities, the game was a gift from the creator. It was to be played in order to "bestow honour and respect to these members [of the community] living on Mother Earth." The players were taught that playing the game was a gift, which contained the lessons of courage, strength, honour, respect, generosity and fairplay. Moreover, the example that they provided to other players and those watching served as lessons as to proper conduct within, and between, these communities.
For many Native communities, the game was a gift from the creator. It was to be played in order to "bestow honour and respect to these members [of the community] living on Mother Earth." The players were taught that playing the game was a gift, which contained the lessons of courage, strength, honour, respect, generosity and fairplay. Moreover, the example that they provided to other players and those watching served as lessons as to proper conduct within, and between, these communities.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Cattaraugus (Seneca) Lacrosse Team

Front from left: Jacob Bennett, James Phillips, Willard White, Jacob Jimerson (captain), Ed Cornplanter (manager), Harry Kittle. Back from left: Leroy Wilson, James Sandy (Cayuga), Lyman Crouse, Kelly Lay, Young Lay, Gerry Jones, Ulysses Nephew, Thomas Green, Delos B. Kittle. Taken at the home of Joseph Keppler.

Photo by Joseph Keppler
Courtesy of National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian Institution.
1902
Inwood, New York, UNITED STATES
N23093
© National Museum of the American Indian Smithsonian Institution.


It is generally agreed that the contemporary game began to evolve after 1834 when the Caughnawaga staged a Lacrosse demonstration in Montreal. By 1867 Dr. William George Beers standardised the first set of rules for a Lacrosse club in that city. It began to gain the attention of people throughout the United States as well as Europe. During the 1880’s the National Lacrosse League of Canada forbid Indians to engage in championship play. Now, over 100 years later, The Iroquois Confederacy, (the Haudenosaunee) as well as other Native communities, have created the their own team, competing in championship games worldwide. Since 1994, lacrosse is recognised under Canada’s National Sport Act as Canada’s National Summer Sport (hockey being Canada’s National Winter Sport).

There are now lacrosse leagues around the world: professional and collegiate, Men’s and Women’s, and those who play just for the sheer enjoyment of the game.

It is generally agreed that the contemporary game began to evolve after 1834 when the Caughnawaga staged a Lacrosse demonstration in Montreal. By 1867 Dr. William George Beers standardised the first set of rules for a Lacrosse club in that city. It began to gain the attention of people throughout the United States as well as Europe. During the 1880’s the National Lacrosse League of Canada forbid Indians to engage in championship play. Now, over 100 years later, The Iroquois Confederacy, (the Haudenosaunee) as well as other Native communities, have created the their own team, competing in championship games worldwide. Since 1994, lacrosse is recognised under Canada’s National Sport Act as Canada’s National Summer Sport (hockey being Canada’s National Winter Sport).

There are now lacrosse leagues around the world: professional and collegiate, Men’s and Women’s, and those who play just for the sheer enjoyment of the game.


© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Describe the history of lacrosse in Canada and its connection to other games played in the Western Hemisphere
  • Identify unequal standards for Native Canadians in Canadian society
  • Describe the status of lacrosse in Canada today

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