Early recorded data on lacrosse, as far back as the 1630s, comes from missionaries and explorers and is sparse and often conflicting. However, it is known that in the traditional Native Canadian forms of the sport, teams could have hundreds of players on fields over a mile long, and games would last a few days! The sport played a significant role in the lives of tribe members, whether as a spiritual event, a ritual with curative purposes, or a surrogate for war. Sometimes, territorial disputes between tribes were settled with a lacrosse game.
The role of lacrosse in American Indian life declined by the late 19th century in the face of cultural erosion and government pressure. When the Choctaw of Oklahoma added lead weights to their sticks to use them as skull-crackers, the game was banned. However, non-native lacrosse hailing from Montreal is today one of the fastest growing sports in North America. The field game of women players today most closely resembles the traditional Indian style, with a wooden stick, lack of protective gear and demarcated sidelines, and use of a mass attack strategy.