Played throughout the world today, the sport of lacrosse is derived from a Haudenosaunee game of great antiquity. This game required the greatest skill for catching, carrying, and passing a ball using only the basketlike head of the lacrosse stick. Quickness, stamina, and strength were equally important to play the game well.
Oneidas and other Iroquois loved the game passionately as entertainment and physical conditioning but lacrosse was also a religious celebration. The Oneida Creation Story, for example, describes a Spirit World which preceded our earth and hangs above it. The residents of that sky land lack sickness and death. They know only happiness — possibly because they enjoy lacrosse.
The great oral tradition which recounts the beginning of the Iroquois Confederacy specifies that the young warriors staged a lacrosse game for Hayewat-ha, one of the League founders, to console him for the loss of his children.
Lacrosse is pleasing to the Creator but it is also a rite sacred to the Thunders, the seven honored elders (Grandfathers) who move across the sky from west to east cleansing the earth with winds and rains. In some Iroquois communities, lacrosse is prescribed (through a dream or by a fortuneteller) as a curing ritual.