Big Flats Elementary
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Your friends have joined you for a walk along
the Chemung River in Elmira, New York. As
you walk by the flowing river, a huge bald
eagle lands in a towering tree nearby.
"Look around, boys and girls," announces the
Eagle. "The River, known as the “large bullthistle”, has changed over the past 600
years. Can you imagine what this land was
like back then?“
"Wow," your excited friends respond. "Could
you bring us back to that time so that we
can see what it was like for the Native
"Hop onto my back," invites the Eagle, "and
hold on tightly. I will help you learn about
some of the Native Americans who live in
New York. You will learn the ways of the
Native Americans of New York have
contributed to our lives or lifestyles
today. These contributions included
things such as language, food, games,
clothing, legends, and even
Your team’s job will be to explore,
research and gather facts about
the Iroquois and then choose one topic to
research and present to another
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
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.
Native American Lacrosse
The Iroquois called the game Tewaarathon, meaning little brother
Purpose for Playing
When the first people of America started playing lacrosse centuries ago, the
game served many purposes. It was played for religious celebration, to train
young men for war, entertainment, physical conditioning and to settle
disputes between tribes.
Among Iroquois tribes a double-stick version of the game was played. A twoand-a half foot stick is held in each hand, and the soft, small deerskin ball
is retrieved and cupped between them. Players did not wear any protective
equipment or even shoes.
Native American Lacrosse (Continued)
Basic Rules of the Game
This game requires the greatest skill for catching, carrying, and passing a ball
using only the basketlike head of the lacrosse stick. Quickness, stamina, and
strength were equally important to play the game well.
In the earliest times of American Indian lacrosse, the game had few rules, if
any.. Since there were no rules and players did not wear any protective
equipment or even shoes, injuries to players were severe and occurred often.
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
Lacrosse games would last for days, stopping at sunset and continuing the next
day at sunrise.
The goal of the game was to get the deerskin ball into the other team’s goal.
The fields had no boundaries, and goals were usually between 500 yards to a
half-mile apart, though sometimes they were several miles apart. The goals
were usually marked by a single tree or a large rock, and points were scored
by hitting it with the ball.
Purpose for Playing
Modern lacrosse is very different than
Native American “stickball”. Today, people
play lacrosse mainly as a sport or for
Today, there is very specific gear that is
worn by the players. This gear includes a
helmet, shoulder pads, rib pads, arm
guards, gloves, cleats and one stick.
Player’s sticks vary depending on the
position that they are playing. There are
three basic sizes: defense, midfield &
attack and goalie. The ball is made up of a
Basic Rules of the Game
Unlike Native Americans, modern lacrosse does have rules. In addition, there are different rules for
men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse. For this task we will be focusing on men’s lacrosse.
There are 10 players on the field at a time for each team: a goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders
and three attacks. Goalies and defensemen try to stop the opposition from scoring; the attacks are the
offense, and midfielders are expected to do a bit of both, generally bringing the ball down the field or
running back to play defense. There are a varying number of other players who wait on the sidelines to
substitute for the 10 players on the field. In modern lacrosse there is limited physical contact allow.
Those that are to rough can receive personal fouls. After 5 fouls they are kicked out of the game.
Playing time 60 minutes per game. The time is divided into four periods of 15 minutes each. Scoring is
similar to that of hockey and soccer, one point per goal. The team with the most goals at the end of play
wins. In the event of a tie, the teams play a sudden-death overtime, with the first goal ending the game.
Similar to a soccer field, a lacrosse field runs 110 yards in length by 60 yards in width. The goals, also
known as cages or nets must be six foot by six foot, and constructed of one and a half inch metal pipe,
and painted orange. These goals are placed at opposite ends of the field allowing 15 yards of field behind
the goals (similar to hockey).
Information on clip: The 1999 Nations Cup was held September 16-19 at Oshwekan, Ontario at Six Nations. It is the world championship of
aboriginal lacrosse. More clips can be seen at http://www.e-lacrosse.com/1999/nationscup/1.htm
To find out more about lacrosse, read page 31 in
the Native American book (soft orange cover)