Tewaarathon: History of Lacrosse
Lacrosse has its history with Native Americans and Plains Indian tribes of Canada, although it didn’t really resemble the modern game we know these days. They used it for a variety of purposes, sport (well, even Native Americans needed a little fun in their lives), they used it as a method of conflict resolution – slightly more civilized than war I suppose, but, wait a minute, they also used Lacrosse for war training – it’s apparently a great way to prepare your warriors in the art of warfare, the Mohawks actually called the game Tewaarathon – “little brother of war”. The game of lacrosse was also used in religious ceremonies. With the medicine men acting as the team coaches, and the women bringing on refreshments, it really was an affair involving the whole community.
There were many rituals involved with the game of lacrosse, which are, I suppose, similar to those adopted just before going to war. The men would decorate themselves with warpaint as well as their sticks, and there was often plenty of side betting on the results if you know what I mean. Every player had to place a wager which could be something like a knife or a trinket of some kind, or even horses, wives and children – beats getting a divorce I suppose!
Once the natives got started, these games could last for many days, involving hundreds of men from opposing villages or tribes, and the goals could be literally miles apart. There were rules, apparently, which were thought up the day before the game, for a start you were not permitted to touch the ball with your hands and only cowards dodged their opponents! Ouch. Once the game was finished there was a ceremonial dance and a feast for the hungry players.
When the Europeans saw what was going on, they immediately adopted the game for themselves but made it more “civilized”. After all, they just didn’t have the time or the energy to play for the whole of the day, an hour or two was quite sufficient thank you.