The Native American Origins of Lacrosse

Lacrosse, the oldest team sport in the United States, dates back to AD 1100, when it was practiced by the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, in what is now New York and parts of Canada bordering the ‘State.

Early versions of lacrosse matches played by Native American nations included 100 to 1,000 or more men using wooden sticks, sometimes with attached baskets or mesh pockets, and small balls wrapped in deer skin. Nets formed from deer sinew. Fields without borders could stretch for miles and the games could last for days.

“Lacrosse was an integral part of Native American culture,” explains Joe Finn, archivist at the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum. “It was played to prepare them for war, and it was also a social event where the tribes got together for commerce and sport. It was sometimes used to settle disputes. “

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