Indian Games

Andrew McFarland Davis
Indian Games

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Title: Indian Games
Author: Andrew McFarland Davis
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"There are," says Father Brebeuf in his account of what was worthy of
note among the Hurons in 1636, [Footnote: Relations des Jesuites,
Quebec, 1858, p. 113.] "three kinds of games particularly in vogue with
this people; cross, platter, and straw. The first two are, they say,
supreme for the health. Does not that excite our pity? Lo, a poor sick
person, whose body is hot with fever, whose soul foresees the end of
his days, and a miserable sorcerer orders for him as the only cooling
remedy, a game of cross. Sometimes it is the invalid himself who may
perhaps have dreamed that he will die unless the country engages in a
game of cross for his health. Then, if he has ever so little credit, you
will see those who can best play at cross arrayed, village against village,
in a beautiful field, and to increase the excitement, they will wager with
each other their beaver skins and their necklaces of porcelain beads."

"Sometimes also one of their medicine men will say that the whole
country is ill and that a game of cross is needed for its cure. It is not
necessary to say more. The news incontinently spreads everywhere.
The chiefs in each village give orders that all the youths shall do their
duty in this respect, otherwise some great calamity will overtake the

In 1667, Nicolas Perrot, then acting as agent of the French government,
was received near Saut Sainte Marie with stately courtesy and formal
ceremony by the Miamis, to whom he was deputed. A few days after
his arrival, the chief of that nation gave him, as an entertainment, a
game of lacrosse. [Footnote: Histoire de l'Amerique Septentrionale par
M. de Bacqueville de la Potherie, Paris, 1722, Vol. II, 124, et seq.]
"More than two thousand persons assembled in a great plain each with
his cross. A wooden ball about the size of a tennis ball was tossed in
the air. From that moment there was a constant movement of all these
crosses which made a noise like that of arms which one hears during a
battle. Half the savages tried to send the ball to the northwest the length
of the field, the others wished to make it go to the southeast. The
contest which lasted for a half hour was doubtful."
In 1763, an army of confederate nations, inspired by the subtle
influence of Pontiac's master mind, formed the purpose of seizing the
scattered forts held by the English along the northwestern frontier. On
the fourth day of June of that year, the garrison at Fort Michilimackinac,
unconscious of their impending fate, thoughtlessly lolled at the foot of
the palisade and whiled away the day in watching the swaying fortunes
of a game of ball which was being played by some Indians in front of
the stockade. Alexander Henry, who was on the spot at the time, says
that the game played by these Indians was "Baggatiway, called by the
Canadians le jeu de la Crosse." [Footnote: Travels and Adventures in
Canada, etc, by Alexander Henry, New York, 1809, p. 78, Travels
through the Interior parts of North America, by Jonathan Carver,
London, 1778, p. 19. The Book of the Indians, by Samuel G. Drake,

Boston, 1811, Book V, Ch.
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