[The New York Times] How Indigenous Athletes Are Reclaiming Lacrosse

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Brendan Bomberry’s voice was growing louder, his words spilling out faster and faster as he unleashed a profanity-laced pep talk on his teammates.

The Haudenosaunee Nationals men’s lacrosse team, a squad that represents the six nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy — the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora — was preparing to play a competitively meaningless game earlier this month at the World Games, an Olympic-style event, after being knocked out of medal contention.

Bomberry, 27, was there to remind the players that, for them, every game and every minute spent in a Haudenosaunee uniform held deep significance.

“Sports may not be political, but for our people, they are,” he said, peppering his words with expletives and jabs of his fist. “Let’s show some heart on this stage. This means something to the people back home.”

His message was plain: Representing the Haudenosaunee (formerly called the Iroquois) has come to involve a set of larger, intertwined objectives beyond winning lacrosse games.

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