Lacrosse Resurges as a Cultural Tradition in Minnesota

In a recent article at The Circle (a web site devoted to Native American news and arts), Art Coulson, a veteran journalist and member of The Circle board, describes the work being done "with tribal communities to return the game of lacrosse to Native homelands" in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Among the efforts are youth skills camps. The camps at Bemidji and Leech Lake were staffed by, among others, Gewas Schindler, Iroquis Nationals general manager and Brett Bucktooth, a star for the Iroquois Nationals who also played in the National Lacrosse League.

Coulson's book, The Creator's Game: A Story of Baaga'adowe/Lacrosse, was just published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. You can read the publisher's description below and, if interested, purchase a copy at MNHS web site. The book is just 48 pages and costs $6.95.

The game of lacrosse is a gift from the Creator, given to the American Indians in the long ago. But Travis Skinaway doesn't know the full story of the game: he only knows that he struggles to catch the ball and tends to throw it over the other boys' heads. Maybe he's not built right to run the field. His teammates and coach seem to think he's hopeless, anyway.

Travis is ready to hang up his gear, but then his grandfather appears in a dream, explaining to him that lacrosse is a spiritual quest, just like a prayer, a song, or a dance. Mom doesn't believe Travis's story, but Grandma knows: she says dreamtime is just as real as awake time.

Grandpa continues to visit Travis, sharing details about the different styles of play, the types of equipment, the various traditions among the tribes. Wearing his grandfather's gear, Travis gains confidence as he practices with the team. When opportunity strikes at the big game, he carries the durable weight of tradition onto the field with him, celebrating skills handed down through generations.


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