Among Native Americans there were many versions of what we now call lacrosse. Players in some tribes used two sticks, one in each hand.
Women and men sometimes competed on the same teams, but women had their own form of the sport in some areas.
The Cherokees called the sport "the little brother of war" because it was considered excellent military training.
The Six Tribes of the Iroquois, in southern Ontario and upstate New York, called their version of the game "baggataway" or "tewaraathon." It was much more organized than in most areas of the country. There were 12 to 15 players per team, and the goals were about 120 feet apart.
According to most accounts, the first Europeans to see baggataway being played were French explorers who thought the stick resembled a bishop?s crozier?la crosse, in French?so the sport was given a new name. However, the French played a form of field hockey that was called jeu de la crosse, and that's a much more likely origin of the name.
Early in the 19th century, Europeans in Canada began playing the game. Montreal's Olympic Club organized a team in 1844, specifically to play a match against a Native American team. Similar games were played in 1848 and 1851.
Lacrosse was "the sport" for the next 100 years.
The Montreal Lacrosse Club, founded in 1856, developed the first written rules. Canada's national lacrosse association was established in 1867.
Ice hockey and lacrosse have always been closely connected. In fact, the original rules of ice hockey, written in 1867, were patterned after those of lacrosse, and most hockey players in Canada also played lacrosse.
Lacrosse was an Olympic sport in 1904 at St. Louis and in 1908 at London. Only three countries, Canada, England, and the United States, were represented. Canada won gold both years.
Lacrosse was a demonstration sport at the Olympics in 1928, 1932, and 1948, and an exhibition tournament was held at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1980.