Lacrosse is steeped in tradition, and though today's participants use sticks of plastic and titanium rather than wood, the lacrosse stick symbolizes the historical significance of the game.
The game, like the stick itself, was developed by North American Indians as early as the 15th century. Indians played the game not only for recreation, but to settle tribal disputes and to toughen warriors for fighting.
Games were played by as few as 100 and as many as 1000 men and lasted two or three days, with play beginning at sunup and ending at sundown each day. Goals, consisting of rocks or trees, were generally 500 yards to a half-mile apart, but could be several miles apart. there were no sidelines, and players raced far and wide over the countryside. They named the game after the ball, baggataway, (in the most common dialect). The ball was often made of stuffed deerskin or knotted leather strips, and although the tribes at first used a stick with a curved end to simply strike the ball, they later on invented a strung head to carry and pass the ball as well.
White men - Jesuit missionaries from France - first encountered the game in the 17th century. They wrote home about a game played by the huron Indians with sticks reminiscent of the crosier (la Crosse) carried by the bishops as a symbol of their office.
In the early 1800's, white settlers in Montreal took up the game. When the Dominion of Canada was created a decade later, lacrosse was designated - and still remains - the national sport. Canadians introduced the sport to the United States, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Today, lacrosse is played at home and in international competition by England and Australia, as well as the United States and Canada.