Six Nation Indian’s Pastimes

Lacrosse, it is well-known, is the Indian’s national game. The agile form with which nature has gifted him, and which I have mentioned already as one of his physical characteristics, brings an essential pre-requisite for success or eminence to a game, where the laggard is at heavy discount.

Though a white team can often boast of two or three individual runners, whose fleetness will outstrip the capacity of an equal number on the side of the Indians, I think, perhaps, that it will be allowed that the Indian team, as a rule, will comprehend the greater number of fleet members. While the Indian, then, can scarcely be said to yield to the white in this respect, he lacks obviously that mental quick-sightedness which, with the latter, defines, as it were, intuitively, the exact location on the field, of a friend, and, with unerring certitude, calculates the degree of force that shall be needed to propel the ball, and the precise direction its flight shall take, in order to insure its reposing on the net of that friend. In the frequently recurring “mêlees”, begotten of the struggle amongst a number of contestants for the possession of the ball, the Indian exhibits, perhaps, in more marked degree than the white, the qualities of stubborn doggedness, and utter disregard of personal injury.

The worsting of the Indian by the white in the majority of competitions of this kind is due to the latter submitting to be governed by system, and to his recognizing a directing power in the captain. The Indian, on the other hand, will not bend to such controlling influence, but chafes under direction of any kind. He has good facilities for practice at this game, and, I believe, really tries to excel in it, often, indeed, the expense of duties, which imperatively call him elsewhere than to the lacrosse-field.

The Indian is a proficient canoeist, and will adventure himself with confidence in a canoe of the frailest construction, which he will guide in safety, and with surpassing skill. He will dispel the fears of his disquieted and faithless fellow-voyager (for the motion at times in canoeing is, unmistakably, perturbing and discomposing; indeed, in this unsettling experience, the body is a frequent, if not an inevitable, sharer) who, in view of his sublime disregard of danger, will quickly re-assert the courage that had waned. If, however, there be a second Indian in the canoe, he usually strives to counteract the reassuring effect that the pilot’s bearing has upon you. He stands up in the bottom, and sways, to and fro, and, with fell and malignant intent proceeds to evolve out of the canoe a more approved see-saw action than a priori, and inherently attaches to that order of craft. On that really “Grand” river, which was his sometime heritage, the Indian can well improve his skill in this modest branch of nautical science.

Six Nations,

Mackenzie, J. B. A Treatise of the Six Nation Indians. Guardian Printing Office. 1882.

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