Kahnawake lacrosse team, 1876. Big John (centre) wearing a Mohawk headdress
Lacrosse game

In the 19th century, the game of lacrosse was very popular with young Natives and non-Natives alike. Big John – wearing a Mohawk headdress in this 1876 photo – was the captain of the Kahnawake team. 




Jean-Baptiste Canadien was a six-foot-five colossus. He excelled at the First Nations ball-and-stick game the French called la crosse, supposedly because the stick resembled a bishop’s staff.

In 1876, the Kahnawake team and the Montreal Shamrocks travelled to England, where, on June 26, at Windsor Castle, they played an exhibition match watched by Queen Victoria.