Allan Downey, "The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood" (UBC Press, 2018)


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Today we are joined by Allan Downey, Associate Professor of History and Indigenous Studies at McMaster University, and author of The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood (University of British Columbia Press, 2018). In our conversation, we discussed the origins of lacrosse, the cultural genocide of North America’s indigenous nations, and the games use as a site of empowerment and resistance.

In The Creator’s Game, Downey examines the role that lacrosse played and continues to play in the construction of settler-colonial and indigenous identity in Canada. He illustrates the way that the Canadian settler-colonial state appropriated the indigenous tradition of lacrosse to help promote white, masculine identities in the 19th century and how First Nation’s people used the game at the same time to reassert their own notions of indigenous identity, including ideas of pan-indigeneity and nested sovereignty.

Downey’s work relies upon a wide range of sources including archival documents, extensive secondary source materials, and oral histories. He also makes use of indigenous epistemologies, taking seriously creation stories, medicine rituals, and the orenta power of physical objects. Throughout he mobilizes new methodologies as a way of explaining the special role of lacrosse among indigenous communities, including writing his own subjectivity as an indigenous person and lacrosse player into his history with chapter framing conversations with the trickster/transformer Usdas.

Keith Rathbone is a lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He researches twentieth-century French social and cultural history. His manuscript, entitled A Nation in Play: Physical Culture, the State, and Society during France’s Dark Years, 1932-1948, examines physical education and sports in order to better understand civic life under the dual authoritarian systems of the German Occupation and the Vichy Regime. If you have a title to suggest for this podcast, please contact him at

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