The game of lacrosse is no stranger to the game of politics, especially in the international arena. In 2010, the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team and the Haudenosaunee (the Iroquois Confederacy) Passport were thrust into international headlines after the United Kingdom refused to allow our players into that country to participate in the World Lacrosse Championships, held in Manchester that year.
The team itself is an act of politics. The Iroquois Nationals were created as a way for the Haudenosaunee to exert jurisdiction and sovereignty over the game that we introduced to the world.
Over the past several years there has been a push in the lacrosse world, and by the sport’s international governing body, the Federation of International Lacrosse, for the sport to be included in the Olympic Games. The Olympic dream very well could be a reality in 2028, as lacrosse is likely to be included as a demonstration sport at the Los Angeles games.
This past November, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board voted to provisionally recognize the FIL, paving the way to the Olympics.
Lacrosse may be reintroduced to the Olympics for the first time since the 1948 Olympics, where it was a demonstration sport, yet the Iroquois Nationals may be left on the sidelines. The Iroquois Confederacy has been recognized by the FIL as a full member since 1988, but the IOC does not recognize the Iroquois Confederacy.
Under the Olympic Charter, “country means an independent State recognized by the international community.” Countries competing in the Olympics must also have National Olympic Committees.
Currently, the Haudenosaunee is a full member of the FIL, and hosted the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, but that may not be enough to be able to compete at the Olympics. The Federation of International Lacrosse needs do everything in its power to ensure the IOC recognizes and allows the Haudenosaunee to participate when lacrosse makes its return to the Olympics.
This wouldn’t be the Haudenosaunee’s first appearance in the Olympics either. At the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, Canada sent two teams to compete in lacrosse – the Winnipeg Shamrocks who won the gold, and a team of Mohawks from Six Nations who won bronze.
The Haudenosaunee are no strangers to showcasing our sport at the international level. A team from Kahnawake played the first game under George Beers’ new codified rules against the Montreal Lacrosse Club in 1867. Beers also brought a team of Kahnawake lacrosse players to England to play before Queen Victoria – the international introduction of the game.
The Haudenosaunee introduced the world to lacrosse. We refer to it as “our game” and the “Creator’s Game,” as lacrosse was a gift to us from the Creator. Lacrosse is also a medicine and is played to raise the spirits of the people.
When lacrosse makes its return to the Olympics it would be a great travesty to the game if the Haudenosaunee are left on the sidelines.
Photo © Greg Horn