First off, congratulations high-fives and respect are due to the FIL World Lacrosse Championship tournament organizers for recognizing the Haudenosaunee as a distinct Nation in 1992, worthy of recognition on the world stage as such. A very brave decision on their part, but rather obvious when you consider the origin of the game itself.
Oren Lyons, who turns 84 this year, is primarily responsible for this miracle in the first place. When he is not working on the next I-nats team, Lyons is touring as a keynote speaker on the origins and importance of lacrosse to the Haudenosaunee, the Six Nations people and culture and other Haudenosaunee perspectives.
Lyons, Chairman of the Iroquois Nationals, is a Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation, Turtle Clan, and fought to have the inventors of the game included in the FIL World Lacrosse Championship series.
Lyons is a pioneer and a powerful force in educating the non-Native world about his people and their many accomplishments. He can now add another arrow to his quiver with the Iroquois Nationals winning Bronze at the 30 Nations, world event. He would be the first to deflect the glory to the many others who have help accomplish this historic feat, but without his persistent lobbying and letter-writing campaigns Haudenosaunee players would have to compete under either an American or Canadian flag.
They have come close to medaling, finishing in fourth place in the elite Blue Division in recent games, but this year, a team selected from an estimated 132,000 Haudenosaunee people on either side of the imaginary Canada/USA border, broke the barrier and won a medal. That would be like the City of Cambridge, Ontario, for instance, fielding a team strictly from within their own municipality, to compete against Nationally funded teams selected from across the USA (pop – 318,406,000), Canada (pop – 33, 476,688) Australia (pop – 23, 560,176), England (pop – 56, 100,000) and Japan (pop – 126, 981,371), and winning a Bronze medal, narrowly missing a shot at the silver. Put in those terms, it really is a miraculous sporting feat.
Around home, they are just Cody, or Roger, or Craig, Sid, Lyle, Miles, Jeremy, Jerome, Mike, Randy, Travis, Tommy, Warren, Jeff etc., but on the world stage and amongst those who really know the game which the Haudenosaunee once called “guh-jee-gwah-ai,” which means, “they bump hips,” these guys are celebrities. One American sports writer referred to traveling with the Iroquois Nationals like traveling with the Beatles, with autograph hunters and selfie requests coming everywhere they went.
The Six Nations community at large owes a huge debt of respect to every Haudenosaunee player who has ever represented the Hiawatha flag on the world stage, past and present, to bring about this accomplishment. But a special thanks is in order to Oren Lyons, who made it all possible. Now let’s build in that bronze medal for 2018. Way to go I-nats.
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