Nya:weh sge:no, I am thankful you are well. The name I was given in the Longhouse is Songuyes and my English name is Ira. I was raised on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation near Buffalo, NY and I am the Cultural Director for Earth Lacrosse Programs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was founded with one main goal in mind: to return the game of lacrosse to its Indigenous – specifically Haudenosaunee – roots.
Since our inception in 2016 by founder Thomas Muldoon (A, Brown, ’10 / Denver Outlaws), Earth Lacrosse has worked tirelessly to empower youth through the healing power of the game. Our camps combine nature immersion and awareness, Haudenosaunee cultural teachings and high-level lacrosse training in order to remind campers of their responsibility to our Mother, the Earth, as well as to remind them of their responsibility to care for one another as human beings and to prepare them for the challenges that they will face in this life.
Our program may be young, but in our four years of existence we have been fortunate enough to work with well over 300 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth throughout the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. We have also had the opportunity to work directly with the Nisqually Nation in Washington State, Jackson Hole Lacrosse in Jackson, WY and both the University of Utah and Colorado College Men’s Lacrosse Programs. And our aim is to continue to expand our outreach efforts.
Besides the work we have already done, our next goal, and essentially the direction we wish to take Earth Lacrosse in the future, is to work primarily with the youth in Indigenous communities throughout North America, sharing not only the power of the game but also messages of peace and togetherness. Let’s not mince words here: as someone who was raised in an Indigenous community, I know that sometimes the youth of those communities are at a disadvantage.
We at Earth Lacrosse understand that we aren’t going to fix all the problems, but we do this work with the hope that our camps make a difference in the lives of the kids we have the pleasure of working with. This game is medicine, and it is reciprocal. Both my parents were mentors, coaches and teachers in their own right, and I do this to honor their memory, to live my best life. This work is my way of beginning to give back.
We aim to have the means to travel and work intimately with Indigenous communities throughout Turtle Island, and with your help I think we can do that. It is with humbleness and gratitude for this game that we ask for support, and I hope that many find our mission worthwhile. Nya:weh, thank you.
For more information about us, please visit: http://www.earthlacrosse.com/
For more information about how to contribute, please visit: http://www.earthlacrosse.com/the-kuleana-fund/