By Asa Jackson

Lacrosse is an incredibly fast paced team game in which players carry balls in sticks with netted pockets at the top in an effort to score goals. Along with being one of the fastest growing sports in the country, lacrosse is also a game of extreme cultural importance to the Iroquois people, even often being described as “The Creator’s Game”. Being invented as early as the 12th century, Lacrosse was a game intended to settle inter tribal-disputes, keep the six nations unified, and to help young boys develop into warriors. As with many other sports, lacrosse today is greatly different from its original version, but is still a very prevalent part of Iriquois culture and is played amongst the Iriquois people almost religiously, and is even played at the national level. In fact the Iroquois National lacrosse team is currently ranked third worldwide after the United States and Canada, and has done well in recent World Games. The World Games is a lower level olympic like event for many different non olympic sports, including lacrosse.

Despite the cultural importance of lacrosse to the Iriquois, and the success of the team, the Iroquois National Team has faced multiple obstacles in playing on the world stage in recent years. Most recently, the Iroquois national team has been barred from playing in the 2022 World Games despite being the third best team in the world. This ban was the result of the International World Games Association ruling that the Iroquois National team doesn’t qualify as a national team because, “the expression country means an independent State recognized by the international community.” The committee made this ruling despite the Haudenosaunee, or, the Iroquois Confederacy identifying as a sovereign nation. Extreme backlash erupted as a result of this decision, with people demanding that the creators of the game be allowed to play on the national stage. Lyle Thompson, one of the Iroquois players reacted to the decision saying, “It was a disappointment and sort of boiled my blood.” Around 50,000 people signed petitions, pro players wore memorabilia and straps around their helmet with the Iroquois National Team logo, and players of other sports showed their support for the Iroquois. (I myself even wrote a strongly worded statement to the World Games account on Instagram.)

Luckily on September 3rd 2020, the Ireland National Lacrosse team nobly bowed out of the 2022 World Games to give the Iroquois National team their spot. The CEO of Ireland Lacrosse Mike Kennedy stated, “It’s simply the right thing to do.” For these noble actions, the Ireland National Lacrosse team is being awarded with The 2020 Musial Award for the year’s greatest moment of sportsmanship. Now despite the actions of the Ireland National Lacrosse Team, the actions against the Iroquois National Team demonstrate how Native Americans are still severely mistreated in society. The mistreatment of Native Americans has occurred since Columbus came to the Americas in 1492. Such mistreatment included genocide and regularly dishonored treaty agreements between Native Americans and the U.S. government. In addition to being horribly mistreated, today many issues that affect Native Americans go completely ignored. The exclusion of the Iroquois Nationals in the 2022 World Games is just another example of Native Americans being unfairly treated and ignored.

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