A lacrosse team from Ireland dropped out of the 2022 World Games after the list of competing teams did not include the Indigenous team, the Iroquois Nationals. Although the sport was created by Indigenous people, they were told they were not able to compete because they were not from a “sovereign nation,” NPR reports.
The Iroquois Nationals represents the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, who actually invented the game of lacrosse and called it the “medicine game.”
Player for the Iroquois Nationals, Lyle Thompson, said, “It was a disappointment and sort of boiled my blood.”
He continues, “All my life lessons really come from the game of lacrosse. Playing in those medicine games, those traditional medicine games and using a traditional wooden stick.”
Although a petition was made and received over 50,000 signatures, the organizers of the World Games “recognized their mistake,” NPR reports, but they’ve already chosen their eight teams for the roster, therefore the Nationals would not have been able to compete if it wasn’t for the Ireland Lacrosse team bowing out of the competition.
A player for the team, Sonny Campbell, also spoke NPR’s Morning Edition and said, “None of us would be going to Birmingham, Ala., in the first place if it wasn’t for the Iroquois and giving us the gift of their medicine game. We support them, and if it means we’ll give up our spot, then so be it. But the Iroquois, they need to be there.”
Thompson was grateful for Ireland’s move to bow out and felt like it was the right decision, while it was very unexpected. He tells NPR, “A sense of me felt bad because they’re sort of sacrificing and giving up their opportunity. But a part of me felt like this is the right move, and I do truly believe that. The Iroquois Nationals are going to put together the best team the world has ever seen, and representing not just the Iroquois Nationals, but Ireland lacrosse also.”