SPORTS - Lacrosse
One of the gifts that the Creator can bestow on the individual is the
gift of sport. The sport that is most recognizable with the Onondaga
and the Haudenosaunee is the game of
The Creator gave us many things for us here on earth, one of them is
this game which we call Deyhontsigwa'ehs. Deyhontsigwa'ehs
is roughly translated to mean, "They bump hips." If you ever
played or watched a lacrosse game, you can see how the game got its name.
Lacrosse at Onondaga is considered sacred. It is a
game that was given by the Creator, to be played for the Creator, and
has been known to have healing power. The game in its original form is
played between two groups, usually divided up between clans or young
men versus old men. Since women are respected for providing life and
are to protect this gift, they do not play lacrosse.
Once sides are chosen, the two teams play. The men hold in their hands
hand-made sticks made of hickory. The spirit of the tree connects the
player to Mother Earth as they play for the Creator. The game is played
on an open field with two pole at each end signifying goals which a ball
made of leather must pass. The Creator is happy to see his game played.
When a game like this is played on Mother Earth, it is said that a game
is also being played with our ancestors in Creator's land. There is a
predetermined amount that the teams must reach before the game is considered
won. Therefore the game is not timed.
Today we still play the game the way our ancestors played the game as
shown above. But the growth our game has allowed our people to play lacrosse
in all different arenas as our white brothers began to play. Soon the
Onondagas were playing "field Lacrosse" with the local colleges
and universities in the area. It was very common for Onondaga to play Syracuse
Uiversity, Colgate University and Army in the early 1900's.
in 1932, the Olympics wanted to showcase lacrosse
in the upcoming games in Los Angeles. The Onondaga Nation team was very
polished and was undefeated in the area. A playoff was established and
it a match between the Onondagas and a team from Johns Hopkins to play
each other to represent the games at the Olympics. Johns Hopkins prevailed
but both teams respected each others play. Unfortunately, with the success
of the Onondaga team against the collegiate teams, the USA Lacrosse association
banned all native teams from playing "field Lacrosse" as they
felt that the natives were "professional" players.
Since the Onondagas and the rest of the Haudenosaunee couldn't play
field lacrosse, they turned their attention Northward where the Canadians
were starting a new kind of lacrosse. The Canadians began playing lacrosse
inside empty hockey rinks. The Onondagas and the Haudenosaunee quickly
took to the physical nature of the game where intricate stick skills
were fostered in "box Lacrosse." Soon box lacrosse leagues
became commonplace on the communities of the Haudenosaunee. From that
point on, players became very adapt to the box game that players such
as the Lyle Pierce, Stanley Pierce, and Irving Powless Sr. were inducted
into the Hall of Fame for their prowess on the field.
Now the Onondagas excel in both the field and box game. Oren Lyons (Syracuse
University All-American goaltender) is in the USA Lacrosse Hall of Fame
and the Canadian Hall Of Fame. Fellow SU player, Barry Powless, Travis
Cook, Russ George, and Eli Cornelius are also in the Canadian Hall of
Fame for their play as well as long time coach Louie Jacques. Current
stars of both the professional field and box games are Marshall Abrams
(SU All-American), Gewas Schildler (Loyola All-American), and Neal Powless
(Nazareth All-American) with many more great players on the horizon.
To read more about Lacrosse on the Onondaga Nation, visit the Official
site of the lacrosse team, The Onondaga