Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Professor of History

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

History, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of History

Department Home page

First Reader

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of History

Second Reader

Cynthia Conides, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History


Once a niche sport to Canada and the northeastern United States, lacrosse has become the fastest growing sport in North America. Though it was played for hundreds of years by the indigenous peoples of this continent prior to the arrival of Europeans, the native roots of the game have not been truly appreciated on a wide scale until recent years. After the adaption and modernization of the game in the mid nineteenth century by Victorian Canadians, the inventors of lacrosse would see over a century of exclusion and discrimination. Native Americans were the victims of rules that were designed to exclude their participation in formal competition, and other discriminatory practices. Despite these impediments, Native Americans were able to adapt and find ways to keep their cultural fingerprint on the game as it expanded south into the United States by the turn of the twentieth century. Today, Haudenosaunee players are some of the most recognizable in the game at all levels. They are the first indigenous nation to play under their own flag in international competition in 1990 and was the first indigenous nation to host a world championship in 2015. This paper examines the cultural importance of lacrosse to the Haudenosaunee, its significance as a connection to their ancient past in a modern world, and that lacrosse can provide a microcosm into Native-white relations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the adaptions that were made to secure their place in the sport’s future as it grows in popularity.