My grandson, Parker, is playing lacrosse on the Onondaga Nation. He has had a handmade stick since he was a little boy and he is now 8. His family moved to Skaneateles last year while we were in India for a job for my son, Chris, and to be nearer the family, us in the Albany area, and the Onondaga Nation near Syracuse for Demone, his wife’s family.
The Iroquois Nation which includes 6 ancient tribes was a democratic nation when the European colonists first arrived in the “new world.” It is a matriarchal society where the clan mothers choose the chiefs, though they are never chiefs themselves. In the ancient times, the clan mothers decided when and if the tribe went to way. I think that was a very insightful idea. The Onondaga are the fire keepers and the peace makers. This gives you an indication of their natural temperament. This is where the game of Lacrosse began. It is their belief that the Creator gave the game to their tribe making it very special. A film was released a few years ago based on the Onondaga history with Lacrosse , called “Crooked Arrows.” Another PBS episode was made for TV called “The Medicine Game” which is the story of the Thompson brothers honored as ABC Persons of the Week in the above video.
Now Parker is continuing the family tradition from his father who played lacrosse, his grandfather, uncles, and cousins who played or play Lacrosse for the Onondaga Nation. He is letting his hair grow because he wants the braid to as a symbol of the tradition he is continuing. He goes to box Lacrosse practice two nights a week. Chris, his dad, is very impressed with the coaching he is receiving and the gentle , no nonsense discipline and instruction he is receiving from the Onondaga coaches. The season begins in May when the boys will play box Lacrosse games at the various “res” sites around Syracuse. I am very proud of Parker just because he is a terrific little guy, but I will be especially proud to see him learning and carrying on his Onondaga traditions. Bofa and Miss Anne will with his Onondaga family cheering him on as he proudly takes his first steps into this 1000 year old traditional game !
A scene from “Crooked Arrows.”
This is the Iroquois symbol which is on their flag and means Iroquois Nation, People of the Longhouse or 6 Nations.
Images from public domain.