This week much of the mainstream and Native media has covered the Iroquois National Lacrosse team’s efforts to travel to England to participate in the Lacrosse World Championships. Ranked fourth in the world, the Haudenosaunee team passed an agonizing week waiting for the United States government to allow them to travel using their Iroquois National Passports, which they have used to travel internationally since 1977 and used as recently as two years ago.
As usual with sports, none of this is just about a game. Sovereignty, spirituality, and sport collide, and the Nationals’ plight underscores the important fact that lacrosse, now played internationally, is Indigenous born. Much of the media coverage this week has touched on the long history and cultural connections the Haudenosaunee people have with the current sport of lacrosse.
Lacrosse has roots in several single- and double-racket ball games played by First Nations and Native American people, including anetso which is played by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. In a new book, author Michael J. Zogry looks at the intertwined nature of game and ritual and offers an important examination of stick ball history and continuity among the Cherokee people. The book Anetso, the Cherokee Ball Game: At the Center of Ceremony and Identity (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) is our most recent First Peoples’ title, and it provides a framework for rethinking the understanding of ritual and performance, as well as their relationship to cultural identity. Look for a guest post from Dr. Zogry in the coming weeks.
For just a glimpse at the recent media coverage on lacrosse, here are links to some of the articles about the Iroquois National Lacrosse team:
Allow Iroquois travel [The Buffalo News]
Bid for Trophy becomes a Test of Iroquois Identity [New York Times]
The Iroquois Lacrosse Team Denied [Native America Calling]
Iroquois National travel window closing [Indian Country Today]
Iroquois Nationals Update: Britain Denies Visas [Lacrosse News]
Pride of a Nation [Sports Illustrated]
US Rule Could keep Iroquois From Lacrosse Tourney [Associate Press via CBS News]
Why the tribe who invented lacrosse can’t play it here [The UK Independent]