Lacrosse
THANKSGIVING ADDRESS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN
Long before there were any white people in North America, our people communicated with the Creator at every sunrise and at every sunset. Our way of communication was one of thanksgiving -- a thanksgiving for all the gifts that were bestowed on us by the creator. With the finest words that could be spoken, our ancesters acknowledged all the life forces on Mother Earth and everything else between them and the dwelling place of the Great Spirit, our creator. Our elders would tell us, "We have directed our voices towards our Creator in the best way we are able to do. Let us be satisfied that we have acknowledged the creations around and above us. We believe that the Creator wishes us to regard the life cycle with the greatest respect and appreciation. Our thanks are to be expressed with each new day."


THE CREATOR'S GAME

The Game of lacrosse was given to our people by the Creator to play for his amusement. Just as a parent will gain much amusement at the sight of watching his child playing joyfully with a new gift, so it was intended that the Creator be similarly amused by viewing his "children" playing lacrosse in a manner which was so defiant of fatigue. This is our belief, and when the four Great Messengers cam, the Creator reiterated to us that his game should be played.

There is a long history of speculation about where the game of lacrosse originated, but as Natives of North America, this question has little significance. We do not wonder who invented lacrosse, or when and where; our ancestors have been playing the game for centuries - for the Creator.

Tewaarathon was not just played to call the Creato's attention to the efforst of the medicine people or simply for one's personal enjoyment and physical fitness. Tewaareathon, because it came from the Creator himself, was also played to bestow honor and respect ot these members living on Mother Earth who had done great things for the Nation. Related to this, Tewaarathon also constituted a means of offering thanksgiving to tyhe Creator for having allowed an elder or medicine person to remain with the Nation so that person could continue to share the richness of his full life with the younger members.

It is true that Tewaarathon (or lacrosse) does demand physical fitness, and participants would train for many months to prepare themselves for these important games, but what is more significant is that our people believed that all things on Mother Earth were a gift of the Creator and following the Creator's instructions. Because lacrosse was such a gift, the difficult training for Tewaarathon was not seen as a burden of work, but rather this training was enjoyed as a preparation to partaking in a precious gift. A participant in Tewaarathon believed that his ability to play was a gift itself and that the enjoyment of playing rested in freely giving his best effort. Because only the participant really knew when his effort had been well prepared and complete, the training for Tewaarathon was related to enjoying one's gift in the view of the very one who had been so generous. It is unfortunate that the fervour which our people took to the field of play was often misinterpreted by the European eye which was untrained to the relationship between the Indian, Tewaarathon, and the Creator. As for the players, in a game of such great importance, there were no bad feelings for any accidental gestures because both teams realized the sincerity of the effort.

Why did our people play lacrosse with such enthusiasm? As mentioned earlier, part of this explanation lies in the link between lacrosse and its status as a gift from the Creator, but lacrosse had additional spiritual significance as well. In times when an elder or anyone in the Nation became sick, the medicine people would call upon the Life Forces of Mother Earth to remedy the sickness. The medicine people would prepare and administer the medicines obtained from Mother Earth, and then they would call for a lacrosse game to be played to provide additional power for the medicine. Our people believed that by demonstrating to the Creator that his people had not forgotten his gift, the Creator would look favourably upon their efforts and therefore would not forget the stricken member. The game was played for the Creator's attention and his fair decision as to whether or not the stricken member recovered or not. The medicine people would prepare and administer the medicines, and the game preceded by sacred ritual would be played with the sincerest effort. If the stricken member failed to recover, no one doubted the decision of the Creator.