Lacrosse is the oldest sport in North America.  The Iroquois believed lacrosse was a gift to amuse the Creator, help heal the sick and to create harmony.
Through lacrosse, young men would learn how to train for battle and withstand pain. Also, it would help increase their agility and strength. During special ceremonial games lacrosse was played to help heal sick people.  The name lacrosse is not the original Iroquois name used for the game. In Onondaga, it was dehuntshigwa'es ("men hit a rounded object"). In Eastern Cherokee, it was da-nah-wah'uwsdi ("little war"). In Mohawk, it was called tewaarathon (little brother of war"). In Ojibwe, it was known as bagga'adowe ("bump hips").  As you can see, the name varied by tribe. Lacrosse was considered excellent military training. A team consisted of hundreds, or even thousands, of players. Often an entire village or tribe played together in a single game! In Native American lacrosse, the goals were often several miles apart, and a game might last as long as three days! Since most players couldn't get anywhere near the ball, they concentrated on using the stick to injure or even kill opponents. At the end of a game, many would be wounded or slain.

A Seminole Lacrosse Stick

lacrosseSo, how did the lacrosse name originate? When the Europeans came to North America, they saw the Iroquois playing a ball and webbed stick game. 
    A common myth is that the French thought the game sticks resembled a Shepherd's crook, or a crosier. In truth, however, the term crosse was a general French word for any bat or stick used in a ball game. Soon thereafter, the French called the game " le jeu da crosse," hence modern "lacrosse." T
his game is still very popular today.








A image depicting a "Snow snake" game.

The Snow Snake Games were played in the winter, after the men of a village returned from the annual hunt. These were enormous games, and villages often played each other. It was an exciting game of skill to the Iroquois people, and an important team sport.
Before the games, each player carved their own "snake", which was a flattened piece of wood or a carved wood scrap, depending upon the age of the players and the competition level. One end was curved up a little, and the other end was notched to make it easier to throw.
When two teams met, they dragged a log through the snow to form a path. The object of the game was to throw your "snake" along the trough at a very fast speed. Teams alternated tosses. The distance that your snake traveled was added to your team score. The team that had the best score was the winner.




A corn husk doll
   Cornhusk dolls have probably been made by Northeastern Native American tribes since the beginnings of corn agriculture more than a thousand years ago. Brittle dried cornhusks become soft if soaked in water, and can produce finished dolls sturdy enough for children's toys.
    In addition to their use for amusement, some cornhusk dolls are used in sacred healing ceremonies. A certain type of Iroquois cornhusk doll was made in response to a nightmare. The doll was then discarded, put back to earth to carry away the evil of the dream.
   Both boy and girl dolls are made using the corn silk tassel for hair. The feet and body are stuffed with leaves and tied while the arms and legs are made from braided or rolled husks. Dolls can be anywhere between four and ten inches tall. Sometimes a face is drawn, or red dots are painted for cheeks; but more often than not the doll's face is left blank.
   The dolls are often dressed in cornhusks, animal hide or cloth but some are made without clothing. Personal equipment is produced for many dolls, and this helps children practice to prepare the things needed for everyday life. Girl dolls would be given cradle boards, hoes, sewing kits or other women's things, while boys could be provided with bows and arrows, canoe paddles and warrior's gear.
Click here to find out how to make a corn husk doll for yourself!