When the French Jesuit priests first saw the native people (in the area now Canada and upstate New York) playing a game using a stick with netting, they called it Lacrosse because it looked like the staff a Bishop carries in religious ceremonies. The game, “Dewae:o” in Seneca (meaning “netting on it”), and “Tewaa:raton” in Mohawk (meaning “little brother of war”) is considered a gift to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois people) from the Creator. The game has been played for thousands of years by the Haudenosaunee. Lacrosse is played in the summer, and was originally used for training and conditioning of players to prepare for the fall season of war.
There are now two styles of the game: one is played with nine players and a goalie per team and is called “field lacrosse.” The second style is “box lacrosse,” played by Canadian hockey players who wanted to keep in condition; they borrowed lacrosse from the natives as a five person and a goalie team to play in a hockey rink.
For many years the Ivy League colleges and service academies (Army, Navy, etc.) were the only players of the game beside the Native Americans. The game now is the fastest growing of any sport. There are now teams from around the world; during a recent international tournament, the U.S. team was first, Canada second, and the Iroquois Nationals third. Other participating teams were from Israel, England, Australia; and many other countries fielded outstanding teams.
The gift from the Creator has taught me many things for which I am thankful: teamwork, discipline and athletic skills. I am from the Seneca Nation and played many years of box lacrosse on the teams of the Haudenosaunee territories of the U.S. and Canada. I also played field lacrosse at Syracuse University and the New York City and New Jersey Lacrosse Clubs.
Respect for the game and most importantly, respect to the Creator, are what, as a coach, I have asked my players to understand. Foul language and improper behavior are not to be tolerated. The language of the Haudenosaunee has no “swear” words. The people of the world should take a lesson from Dewae:o and respect one of the many gifts the Creator has given us.