The Creator’s Game
Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood
The Creator’s Game serves as a potent illustration of how, for over a century, the Indigenous game of lacrosse has served as a central means for Indigenous communities to activate their self-determination and reformulate their identities.
Lacrosse has been a central element of Indigenous cultures for centuries, but once non-Indigenous players entered the sport, it became a site of appropriation – then reclamation – of Indigenous identities. The Creator’s Game focuses on the history of lacrosse in Indigenous communities from the 1860s to the 1990s, exploring Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations and Indigenous identity formation. While the game was being appropriated in the process of constructing a new identity for the nation-state of Canada, it was also being used by Indigenous peoples to resist residential school experiences, initiate pan-Indigenous political mobilization, and articulate Indigenous sovereignty. This engaging and innovative book provides a unique view of Indigenous self-determination and nationhood in the face of settler-colonialism.
- Winner, Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences 2019
- Winner, CSN-REC Book Prize, Canadian Studies Network – Réseau d’études canadiennes 2018
- Short-listed, Wilson Book Prize, The Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University 2019
Downey’s meticulous and conceptually rich work offers scholars of politics and settler colonialism a crucial link between Indigenous nationhood and lacrosse that allows us to think of history, metaphysics and meaning beyond the settler states that have claimed the sport and the lands for its own.- Audra Simpson, professor of anthropology at Columbia University
It is impossible to sum up this vital book in a short review such as this: it is far too rich a work of scholarship and cultural exposition to do it justice. What will suffice, here, is to conclude that this is a major work of insight and recovery; a highly successful fusion of European/settler historiographical tradition with methodologies based on Indigenous storytelling, faith keeping, and personal understanding.- Allan Downey
Downey’s writing is approachable and jargon-free, appealing to both casual and specialist readers[…]this book is an exciting glimpse at what the future holds as Indigenous scholars bring Indigenous learnings to Western-style academia.- Gillian Poulter
Many readers will find this book valuable. It enlarges the existing framework for understanding lacrosse, and it should prompt readers to consider how other Indigenous perspectives could enhance this story.- Janice Forsynth
Downey describes the history of lacrosse as a “Trickster tale, full of anomalies, contradictions, and tricks. ” He displays considerable writing and interpretive talents in demonstrating the importance of the game for the history and identity of Indigenous peoples.- Lyle Dick
This book is an excellent contribution to the scholarly literature of Canadian political biography, partly because it invites readers to think seriously about its conclusions, regardless of whether or not they agree with them. That invitation facilitates an acknowledgment by the reader of the book’s critical strengths and laudable scholarly approach. It is a historical work but also multidisciplinary, combining features of political science, economics, and philosophy that reflect the equally complex and nuanced life and accomplishments of its biographical subject.- James T. McHugh