SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — In a historic move, the International Olympic Committee has officially agreed for lacrosse, a sport deeply rooted in the heritage of the Haudenosaunee people, to be included in the 2028 Olympic Games. For nearly a thousand years, lacrosse has been an integral part of Haudenosaunee culture. It finds its roots in the Haudenosaunee creation story and was commonly used as a way to heal the sick, but now it is set to make its entry onto the global stage.
Lacrosse embodies centuries of tradition, unity and resilience for the Haudenosaunee.
Syracuse University Indigenous Studies professor Phillip Arnold believes this to be true for many of the Haudenosaunee individuals in his life, “All the Haudenosaunee players I know, at some point in their life, realize that this is their responsibility – to be ambassadors for the game.”
But a major question has yet to be answered: whether or not the Haudenosaunee will be able to play as their own team under Olympic standards since they are a sovereign nation.
Arnold acknowledges the challenges ahead. “There are a lot of hurdles that have to be overcome to have the first Indigenous nation be included in any Olympic game,” he says.
However, he remains optimistic, adding that the inclusion of the Haudenosaunee would mark a significant and positive shift in international competitions in general.
One of the major hurdles facing the Haudenosaunee Nationals is their status as an independent state. The resolution of this matter is crucial for their participation as a sovereign team in the global event, but optimism still resonates among the Haudenosaunee community.
Bean Minerd, a player on the Women’s Haudenosaunee Nationals Team, believes this is the perfect way to showcase the origins of lacrosse.
“People around the world think Indigenous people are extinct. So this is a great platform to show… it’s not a preppy white boy sport. It’s our sport,” she says.
Minerd also emphasizes that for the Haudenosaunee people, lacrosse is more than just a sport.
She says, “We play for something bigger than ourselves… it’s about our program, about our youth, about our people, about what we’re advocating for.”
As of now, the Haudenosaunee Nationals have expressed their eagerness to participate in the 2028 Olympics through social media.
As their journey to the Olympics unfolds, players like Minerd will continue hoping to represent their nation – gaining the recognition, respect, and opportunity to educate the world about the history and cultural significance of lacrosse.