To keep it real — and to make sure he could handle a stick — Routh relied on the youthful athletes who were cast from the Mohawk, Tuscarora and Onondaga nations, as well as co-producer Neal J. Powless, who belongs to the Onondaga Nation's Eel Clan. Powless was a collegiate All-American, a professional player for seven years and a member of the Iroquois Nationals in four World Lacrosse Championships.
They also helped a second writer, Brad Riddell, beef up the Native American lore, building on the knowledge Baird had acquired from Smithsonian folklife expert Thomas Vennum, author of "Lacrosse Legends of the First Americans." The finished film presents lacrosse as "the Creator's game," played initially by animals and birds for the Creator's amusement. In "Crooked Arrows," each "hero team" member — coach included — becomes energized to the core when he envisions his animal or avian identity, from a terrapin, able to withstand great blows, to a soaring, all-seeing eagle.