History of lacrosse Essay

This essay has a total of 881 words and 4 pages.

history of lacrosse

Lacrosse is the oldest team sport in North America, having been played by Native American
tribes long before any European had even set foot on the continent. A century after
European missionaries discovered the game played by Native Americans, they began to play
it themselves, starting in the 18th century. From there, it evolved and grew in popularity
from a very savage game that resembled war, into what it is today, a recreational sport
played widely in America and other countries. As U.S. Lacrosse literature aptly puts it
"Lacrosse is a game born of the North American Indian, christened by the French, adopted
and raised by the Canadians, and later dominated by the Americans."

When the first people of America started playing lacrosse centuries ago, the game served
many purposes. It was played to amuse the Creator, to train young men for war, and to
settle disputes between tribes (Source B). The game was played by tribes in all parts of
the United States and Canada; it was played by the Mexican Kickapoo in Texas, the Seminole
in Florida, the Bungi in Manitoba, the Cherokee in Tennessee, and the Passamaquoddy in
Maine (Source B). The game was called Baggattaway, meaning they bump hips by the Algonquin
tribe, and Tewaarathon, meaning little brother of war, by the Iroquois tribe (Source B).

In the earliest times of American Indian lacrosse, the game had few rules, if any.
Lacrosse games would last for days, stopping at sunset and continuing the next day at
sunrise. The fields had no boundaries, and goals were usually between 500 yards to a
half-mile apart, though sometimes they were several miles apart (Source A). The goals were
usually marked by a single tree or a large rock, and points were scored by hitting it with
the ball. There were no limitations on the number of players on a team, and often there
would be as many as one thousand players in a lacrosse game at the same time (Source A).

The game was especially violent when used as an alternative to war to settle intertribal
disputes. One example was a game between the Creek and Choctaw tribes in 1790 (Source B).
This game, which was to determine which tribe had the rights to a beaver pond, broke out
into a violent battle after the Creeks were declared the winners of the game. Because of
the massive attack and the savage play, lacrosse truly was the little brother of war.

The game also had important religious value to Native Americans. Especially in the
Iroquois tribe, lacrosse was played to please the Creator, whom the Natives worshipped.
Although the Natives were for the most part polytheistic, the Creator to whom the Iroquois
referred is likely the divine leader Deganawidah, who, according to Iroquois legend,
united the Six Nations of Iroquois in the 15th or 16th century.

During this period of growth and modernization, Native tribes continued to play lacrosse
as they always had. The Natives' game was modernized in that it was not played so savagely
(Source A). However, it had not modernized as much as the game played by whites. In the
early 20th Century, the Great Lakes and Southeastern variations of lacrosse were very
rare, but the Northeastern version of the game was still played. The Six Nations of
Iroquois played the game competitively against other countries, including Canada, and once
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