Arts, Culture & Media

For the Haudenosaunee women's national team, 'lacrosse is life'

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The Haudenosaunee played Italy on July 21 at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, England. 
Credit:

Kenneth Deer 

The Creator’s game. That's what the Haudenosaunee Nation, which straddles the US and Canada, calls lacrosse.

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And they should know — they invented the game.

This month, the women's national team went to England to compete in the Lacrosse World Cup, and they were able to travel on their tribal passports.

It's a big deal because it's an “acknowledgment of the Haudenosaunee as our own sovereign people,” the team’s Amber Hill-Donhauser said in an Excelle Sports story

To bring it about, “The Haudenosaunee Nationals Board of Directors were in constant communication with Canadian Immigration and the UK,” she told Excelle Sports.   

However, in the past, Haudenosaunee national teams have tried to travel to the competition using their tribal passports, and failed.

In 2010, the men's team had to withdraw from the world championship in the UK because their passports were not recognized. And a women's team had to pull out for the same reason in 2015.

So, just getting to play at all this time around was a triumph.

“We really want to represent and be recognized for who we are as people,” says Tia Schindler, the manager of the women's team.

On top of that, the team also played well. They finished 12th out of 25 countries, which is impressive considering they didn’t have a full roster. Many team members had dropped out, uncertain about whether they would be able to compete.

Schindler says that in her community, people like to say “lacrosse is life.” Her grandparents played lacrosse, her parents played lacrosse, and she and her husband both play lacrosse. They even got married, in 2010, at a lacrosse invitational in Hawaii.

“I really didn't think he was serious until we were in the mall, and he said, “Hey, I'm going to go get a suit,” says Schindler, the women's team manager. “I said, ‘What you need a suit for?’ And he said, "We're going to get married in Hawaii at the lacrosse tournament!""

Lacrosse is more than just a game in Haudenosaunee culture.

“So [for] the Creator, it was put here on Earth, and it is here for his enjoyment,” says Schindler, “Anytime you're playing lacrosse, the Creator is always watching.”