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Crooked Arrows

A ragtag lacrosse team taps their Native American heritage

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Steve Rash's inspirational sports tale may well be the first film about lacrosse — even though the game has been played on North American soil longer than any other. (Native Americans played spiritually inspired lacrosse matches that lasted more than a day.) Crooked Arrows takes the familiar trope — underdog team vs. undisputed champs — and sets the conflict in contemporary upstate New York, where a struggling Indian tribe tries to find a balance between an exploitative casino deal and the preservation of their culture. Under the tutelage of the new coach (who is on his own spiritual quest), the tribe's ragtag high school kids become re-acquainted with their ancestors' traditions — from language to lacrosse skills — and steadily mount a defense against the uppity prep-school kids. The story doesn't break much new ground, but it does make a worthy stab at incorporating the broader history of lacrosse, as well as acknowledging the existing tension between impoverished reservations and the win-lose solution of building casinos.

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