I spent this weekend getting in touch with my inner native Oregonian and what better way than to go hiking in the gorge. While taking in the incredible scenery at Loowit Falls, I was struck by the notion that I was undoubtedly treading some of the same ground that many legitimate Oregon natives had tread before me. As I wound down the bush-whacked trail with over-sensitive bare feet, another notion hit me: Baggataway must have been brutal!
For the uninformed, baggataway is the Iroquois game that was played as a little brother to war and is the basis for modern day lacrosse. It was played by hundreds, if not thousands, of tribal natives over miles of land. It was also often played in religious ceremonies for the creator, and thus was known amongst the natives as the Creator’s game.
Oh and I guess that makes it the oldest team sport played in North America, with evidence of its presence in the 1100’s. Take that baseball.
So the question at hand is this: was the original game prevelant enough to make it all the way over here to the Willamette Valley? There is plenty of evidence that it was played throughout the woodlands in North-Eastern America, and even the central plains, but I can find nothing on its prevelance on this side of the great land. It seems that such an expansive game, way of life even, would find its way over even before means of communication really picked up, but I could not find anything in my mild stint of research for this post. As I felt the spirits of the natives guide me through the hike this weekend, I also felt that the game we play is part of those spirits. I would love to find out more about its history on the West coast, or, better yet, would feel honored to be part of its initial spread, even if it is this many centuries later.
History of lacrosse [wikipedia]
The old Indian game of baggataway [CBC Digital Archives]