The roots and traditions of lacrosse are firmly planted in Native American history and culture, but lacrosse is not a game known to all of the American native groups. As the sport has expanded West in general, new groups have picked up the game, and some of these groups include people living on Reservations in western North America.
Myers Reece, Senior Writer for the Flathead Beacon, wrote a great article featuring a game between two of these western Reservation teams, and we thought our audience would enjoy learning more about the Growth of the Game in this situation.
Here is an excerpt of Myers’ article, followed by a link to the post in its entirety. It’s definitely worth a read and Kevin Flynn, our Game Grower of the Year, is mentioned, and of course, it’s in a game growing context.
PABLO – As the sun broke through a wall of dark clouds, a group of high school kids wearing lacrosse pads and dirt-streaked jerseys kneeled at the center of a grassy field on the Flathead Indian Reservation, arms on each other’s shoulders, and prayed.
“Dear Creator, we thank you for the opportunity to play your game,” one of the boys said aloud, while the other teenagers and their coaches bowed their heads in reverence. Cars could be heard on the highway but on the field there was only silence except for the boy leading the prayer. “I hope we honored and glorified you,” the boy concluded.
The teenagers were gathered at the Two Eagle River School football field that day for a rare lacrosse matchup between two teams from Western American Indian reservations. In fact, none of the coaches or parents were aware of any other reservation lacrosse teams in the West beyond those two teams – 10Sticks of the Flathead Indian Reservation and Nadzitsaga affiliated with the Burns Paiute Tribe in Oregon – except for a team from Prairie Island, Minn., if that counts as the West.
“Those are the three we know of,” said Alex Alviar, program director for the Flathead’s 10Sticks lacrosse team. “West of the Mississippi you’ve got almost zero reservations fielding lacrosse teams that we know of. Maybe they’re out there but I can’t find any mention of them.”
Alviar said both teams, the players and coaches, grasped the significance of the April 27 game in Pablo, from a cultural and historical perspective. The Oregon team had eagerly made the long trip for the chance to promote lacrosse’s native origins.
“We’re both really trying to showcase lacrosse as an important contribution to the world,” Alviar said before the game started. “This is a big day.”
To read the rest of this fantastic article, and see a number of additional photos, check out Lacrosse Returns To Its Native Roots from the Flathead Beacon. It’s amazing to hear how lacrosse has such a transformative effect when it is played for the right reasons and in the right spirit.
We thank Myers for his wonderful article, and wish both 10Sticks and Nadzitsaga the best of luck moving forward! Do you know of more Native American lacrosse out West? Can you help make some connections? Let’s get to work here, people and support our community!