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Word Count: 1,175
Lacrosse was one of many varieties of indigenous stickball games being played by American Indians at the time of European contact Almost exclusively a male team sport it is distinguished from the others such as field hockey or shinny by the use of a netted racquet with which to pick the ball off the ground throw catch and convey it into or past a goal to score a point The cardinal rule in all varieties of lacrosse was that the ball with few exceptions must not be touched with the handsEarly data on lacrosse from missionaries such as French Jesuits in Huron country in the 1630s and English explorers such as Jonathan Carver in the mid-eighteenth century Great Lakes area are scant and often conflicting They inform us mostly about team size equipment used the duration of games and length of playing fields but tell us almost nothing about stickhandling game strategy or the rules of play The oldest surviving sticks date only from the first quarter of the nineteenth century and the first detailed reports on Indian lacrosse are even later George Beers provided good information on Mohawk playing techniques in his Lacrosse 1869 while James Mooney in the American Anthropologist 1890 described in detail the Eastern Cherokee Ball-Play including its legendary basis elaborate rituals and the rules and manner of playGiven the paucity of early data we shall probably never be able to reconstruct the history of the sport Attempts to connect it to the rubber-ball games of Meso-America or to a perhaps older game using a single post surmounted by some animal effigy and played together by men and women remain speculative As can best be determined the distribution of lacrosse shows it to have been played throughout the eastern half of North America mostly by tribes in the southeast around the western Great Lakes and in the St Lawrence Valley area Its presence today in Oklahoma and other states west of
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