Our Grandfathers told us many stories that would relate to lacrosse and how one should conduct themselves and the importance of the INDIVIDUAL to the game. Lacrosse was a gift to us from the Creator, to be played for his enjoyment and as a medicine game for healing the people. The Haudenosaunee people know that all creatures, no matter how big or small, are significant and have a contribution to make to the overall cycle of life. Long ago our we were told the following story about a great ball game that took place between the four-legged animals and the winged birds…
The Eagle, easily noticing that they were a squirrel and a mouse, inquired as to why they didn’t ask to join the animal team. The little creatures explained that they had asked, but had been laughed at and rejected because of their small size.
By happy inspiration, one bird thought of the water drum that is used in social and ceremonial gatherings. Perhaps a piece of the drums leather could be taken from the drumhead, cut and shaped and attached to the legs of one of the small creatures. It was done and thus originated the bat.
We acknowledge the creator and give thanks to the four protectors and all life sustainers. Now, the creator has endowed upon all human life, a game called dehonchigwiis (lacrosse) for all to enjoy. The young men who participate in the creator’s game will generate a gift of healing that we may have peace of mind.
Now, we send a message to the creator’s land that there are peoples representing the four directions of mother earth, having assembled here today to enjoy in the game of lacrosse. And as these games are conducted, we acknowledge the healing energy and the peace of mind for all human kind. We acknowledge the continuance of this ancient game as beneficial for the future generations of all peoples of the world.
Now, we ask the creator’s to watch over these men gathered here during this game so that no harm will come to them. We ask the creator to watch over all those who come to enjoy this game of lacrosse. We ask the creator, as the games conclude, to safely return all to their homelands, located in each of the four directions of Etinoha wenjhage – our Mother Earth. Dane:toh – That is all.
By Chief Paul Waterman, genhen
Translation by Denise Waterman
Illustrations by the 1999 Onondaga Nation School students
© Denise Waterman.