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Could Lacrosse be a way to push Native American representation into the mainstream? (OP-ED)

Lacrosse is a sport that has been overlooked within the American sports zeitgeist. For some, the difficulty curve for the sport makes it feel daunting, while for others, Lacrosse is considered a preppy sport for affluent families and schools. Fortunately, that sentiment is changing, thanks to the culture in which the sport finds its roots. 

Originally named stickball, Lacrosse has been a significant sport played by Native Americans since before the first settlers landed in North America. Unfortunately, like many other things originating from Native American tribes, Lacrosse was absorbed into American culture with little recognition and context towards the original culture.

Luckily, recent years have seen a significant increase in Native American participation. Not only has this increase been healing for the community, but it also has the side benefit of bringing more attention to Native Americans within the U.S. However, will it be enough to get them into mainstream lacrosse?

Certain Native lacrosse teams are hopeful, including the Haudenosaunee Nationals Lacrosse organization, that increased Native representation in the sport will remind the world of its history, especially considering its addition to the 2028 Olympic Games.

“It is part of our existence,” said Haudenosaunee Nationals executive director Leo Nolan to The Guardian. “It’s us, so it’s as important as anything else in our lifestyle, who we are. It’s about who we are, so it’s absolutely important for us to contribute this game to the rest of the world.”

Haudenosaunee Nationals Lacrosse organization is a part of the Haudenosaunee Nation, an amalgamation of Native tribes whose land sits between the US and Canadian borders.

Their efforts to play under their flag is another step on their journey for Independence, and it has gotten support overseas and even domestically. 

According to Data For Progress’s 2023 study, 66% of Americans from across the country, regardless of political party, believe that the Haudenosaunee Nationals should compete under their flag. This echoes President Biden’s support in December for the team when the Olympic committee rejected the Haudenosaunee National’s proposal.

“Their ancestors invented the game. They perfected it for millennia. Their circumstances are unique. They should be granted an exception to field their own team at the Olympics,” said Biden.

Competing in the 2028 Olympic Games would create a massive boost in attention towards Native Americans within the U.S. and maybe even be a way to inform and appreciate other things including food, music, and creatives, into U.S. culture.

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