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MUSEUM MONDAYS: Lacrosse documentarian speaks tonight

November 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

 

In connection with tonight's presentation by Patty Loew, "Sacred Stick: The Indigenous Origins of Lacrosse" (7 p.m., Richardson Auditorium) Logan Museum of Anthropology director Bill Green offered the following about the game of lacrosse and its representation in the Logan.

The game of lacrosse originated among Native Americans and was picked up by non-Indians in the mid-19th century. Across eastern and central North America, lacrosse and related games were--and are--played outdoors and indoors, by small teams as well as huge groups. It's a sport, but more than that, too. As former Smithsonian anthropologist Thomas Vennum has written: 

"Apart from its recreational function, lacrosse traditionally played a more serious role in Indian culture. Its origins are rooted in legend, and the game continues to be used for curative purposes and surrounded with ceremony. Game equipment and players are still ritually prepared by conjurers, and team selection and victory are often considered supernaturally controlled. In the past, lacrosse also served to vent aggression, and territorial disputes between tribes were sometimes settled with a game, although not always amicably.

A Creek versus Choctaw game around 1790 to determine rights over a beaver pond broke out into a violent battle when the Creeks were declared winners. Still, while the majority of the games ended peaceably, much of the ceremonialism surrounding their preparations and the rituals required of the players were identical to those practiced before departing on the warpath."  (T. Vennum, American Indian Lacrosse: The Little Brother of War, Smithsonian, 1994; see also http://www.uslacrosse.org/TopNav/MuseumHallofFame/History.aspx)

See and hear Mr. Vennum discuss the game and its traditions at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBgmriMS7v8.

The Logan Museum of Anthropology has three Native American lacrosse sticks in its collection. The museum acquired the two shown here (catalogue numbers 50.1 and 50.2) in 1928 from Oliver LaMere in Madison, Wisconsin. Mr. LaMere (1879-1930) was a well known Ho-chunk leader, educator, and writer. Note the mesh used to carry and throw the ball, which was usually made of wood.

For a preview of Patty Loew's new documentary on lacrosse, see the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQim9MSBF_U

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