"Baggatiway" was the Indian name of this game - "a manly exercise," as an old traveller calls it. Lacrosse, "the cross," was the name given it by some Jesuit missionary whose religious zeal was far greater than his sense of the resemblance between things. It seems that when the term lacrosse was substituted for baggatiway "Poor Lo" was becoming an antiquated personage, a thing of the past; it was only when the noble red man was overcome by poor whiskey and too much religion, then we find lacrosse used to signify any thing else than the symbol of Christianity. Writers of Indian travels, as late as 1775 and even 1809, still use the good old name of baggatiway in speaking of the national game of the Indians a game that was played among the Choctaws of the South, as well as by the Sacs and Chippewas of the North. Baggatiway was to Indians what chariot racing and the throwing of the discus were to the Greeks; what cricket is to the English; what base-ball is to Americans; a game that attracted the attention and tried the skill of the bravest warriors, of the most agile athletes. Kings and queens and royal chieftains were wont, even centuries ago, to take part in the sport. We have said that baggatiway was a national game. It was, however, played differently by different nations. The Choctaws played it with two sticks, each about two and a half feet long, with the end about the size of a large spoon. The Sioux played with but one stick about four feet long. The sticks used today are usually four feet and a half long and nine inches broad near the end. The general features of the game are the same today as they were centuries ago. The players were not allowed to touch the ball with their hands; the body-checking was about the same, a little more vigorous perhaps; when a goal was made the ball was sent back to be thrown up in the centre of the field. On the other hand, the number of players was much larger then than now, sometimes as many as three hundred; the distance between the goals was usually 500 or 600 yards. In those early days the exercise was thought to be a "severe and tempting one." The players wore little clothing beside the breech-cloth. The night before a game was devoted to fasting and prayer; the great Yo He Wah, the Deity, was invoked. The skill displayed in these games was much greater than at present. We are told that the ball was sometimes kept from striking the ground during the whole contention. The old writers lay special stress upon the fact that this game tended to increase the power of self-control; that it was thought to be excellent mental training. In June, 1763, the great Pontiac assembled the Chippewas and Sacs at Fort Mackinaw to have a game of baggatiway; of course every one attended, from the commandant to the lowest corporal, when, in the midst of the game, the Indians turned upon the whites and butchered nearly the whole assemblage. Thus baggatiway or lacrosse is associated with history. The gentlemen who recently met to form a new lacrosse team for Harvard's honor, have no reason to be ashamed of a game which for many years has been the national sport of a people noted for endurance, agility and grace. The game was played on Cambridge common when Harvard was yet in its cradle; the old willows of Holmes re-echoed with the shouts of lacrosse players when Washington was but a boy. To such an antiquity as this the lacrosse player can well point with pride. As the only really autochthonous and truly American game, rivalled only by tennis as to age and duration of vogue, it certainly should hold a high stand among our college sports.
Its Origin and History.
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