American Indian Lacrosse

byThomas Vennurn Jr..Smithsonian, 376 pages, $44.95 and $15.95.

Mr. Vennum tells more about lacrosse play than anyone but a fan of the game is likely to wish to know, but he also provides information about the Indian rituals, beliefs, and maneuvers surrounding it which will interest anyone with a regard for Native American history. Indian lacrosse was called the “little brother of war,” and was used, on occasion, for political chicanery and military deception. It was also the basis of much wagering, to the outrage of missionaries who took their usual curious approach to attracting converts: if the heathen enjoy it, make them stop. Mr. Vennum’s factual material is interspersed with fictionalized versions of certain events, an odd arrangement abandoned once the author gets to the shameful account of how whites, having learned a fine game from the Indians, conspired to drive their teachers off the Held.