The Iroquois are the originators of the modern day game of Lacrosse. Shrouded in time, Lacrosse was played among the Confederacy long before the coming of the Europeans to the shores of North America. It can be said that when the Europeans first came to America, Lacrosse was one of the most popular and widespread games played across the continent and with many variations. The long stick game played internationally today belongs to the Iroquois.
The Iroquois, also known as the Six Nations, represent the indigenous people that originally occupied extensive lands in what is now New York State, southern Quebec and Ontario, Canada. Stretching from the Hudson River and Mohawk Valley through to the northern and central Great Lakes region, a confederacy was formed and it brought together the Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk and Seneca tribes into the first League of Nations in North America. The Tuscarora joined the Confederacy in the mid-1700s to become the sixth member nation.
The Iroquois name for themselves is ‘Haudenosaunee’ which means “People of the Longhouse”. The longhouse symbolizes a way of life where the Six Nations Confederacy live under one common law, think with one mind and speak with one voice. That law is called “Gien na sah nah gonah” the Great Law of Peace. The alliance of the Haudenosaunee created the first United Nations in this land, thus we maintain the oldest, continuously operating form of government in North America. We have lived in northeastern North America for thousands of years. The people of the Six Nations currently residing in New York and Canada remain sovereign and independent. The Iroquois people identify themselves as citizens of their respective nation and travel internationally under their own passports.
Historical evidence indicates that the Iroquois had a significant role in the development of democratic principles in North America and the ideas and concepts of the Iroquois form of government influenced the thinking of Benjamin Franklin, who was instrumental in the development of the American Constitution. All the nations of the confederacy speak dialects of the Iroquois language. The people of the Confederacy belong to any one of the nine family clans (Turtle, Bear, Wolf, Deer, Beaver, Hawk, Heron, Snipe or Eel) of the Haudenosaunee and share many common beliefs and traditions under the Great Law. In 1987, the Congress of the United States unanimously passes Concurrent Resolution S.76, recognizing the contribution of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) to the democratic principles of the Constitution of the United States.
Today, approximately 70,000 plus Iroquois people reside in eighteen communities in the states of New York, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.