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Lacrosse — The fastest game on two feet!

May 28th, 2012 by Carrie Gleason

Aboriginal peoples across North America have long played some form of ball and stick game, each carried its own name for the game: The Ojibway played Baggataway; the Mohawk, Tewaarathon. The sport of Lacrosse comes from the Mohawk game played in the area around present-day Montreal. Originally lacrosse was played for spiritual reasons.

Today lacrosse's appeal extends to teens from all ethnic backgrounds, and youth enrolment has nearly doubled in the last decade. There are associations across Canada, it was an Olympic sport for a time (the push is on to reinstate it) and even a prime minister or two (Trudeau and Pearson for the curious) were active fans.

The play-by-play action of our two hi/lo lacrosse books for middle school will appeal to sports fans, at the same time both send a strong message about aboriginal people and racism.

man-to-manlacrosse warrior

In Bill Swan's Man-to-Man (from the Sports Stories fiction series), a youth lacrosse team from the Durham region faces off against a team from Six Nations at the Ontario Provincial Lacrosse Championships. The game is fierce, the competition between these teams tough. Between games there is an incident between the rival teams that officials are quick to interpret as racism. The players have to convince the officials otherwise — it's not race that was the cause of the conflict, but the competitive nature of their sport and the teams' passion for a championship win.

Lacrosse Warrior is a non-fiction book from our Recordbooks series. The setting for this book is fifty years earlier than Man-to-Man and, interestingly, this book features real players on a Durham lacrosse team and a single, great player from Six Nations — Gaylord Powless.

But unlike the fictional novel described above, racism was a factor in Powless's story. Gaylord Powless was born on the reserve and, like his father, Ross, was a star lacrosse player. At just sixteen, Gaylord left the shelter of his tightly-knit community and his twelve-sibling home to play for the Green Gaels lacrosse team in Oshawa. In his rise to become one of the game's greatest players and an aboriginal sports hero, he battled racism both on the court and in the media.


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