ball game team. Klamath River, Humboldt County, California.
© Courtesy of 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.
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
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.