The modern medicine game: an examination of Haudenosaunee lacrosse as a mechanism for self-determination, decolonisation and reconciliation
In 2010, the Iroquois Nationals men’s lacrosse team, the representative team of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, did not participate in the World Championship due to a highly publicised dispute surrounding their passports. This event was seen by many as a courageous display of sovereignty, I asked why the Haudenosaunee used the sport to advance their political objective of self-determination.
Applying a theoretical framework of Pierre Bourdieu’s Practice Theory and drawing on data collected within several Haudenosaunee communities using Indigenous influenced methods, I aim to explain the cultural politics within the Confederacy and how it shapes the practice of the representative teams, the Iroquois Nationals and Team Haudenosaunee as they seek to gain recognition of their sovereignty. To achieve this, I examine the role of lacrosse in three areas; at the individual level in the construction of members’ identity as Haudenosaunee; at the Confederacy level in structuring the debate on contemporary issue within the confederacy; and, as a shared platform between Haudenosaunee and dominant society.
This research shows lacrosse, as part of a greater belief in being a sovereign peoples, is deeply engrained into the Haudenosaunee identity. As such, individuals are heavily invested emotionally and financially in being successful at the sport they call their own. Lacrosse serves both as a mechanism for decolonisation through an internal process of decision making and as a platform for shared values with the dominant society which has the potential to lead to reconciliation. Finally, this research will show that lacrosse, once known as the medicine game for its ability to heal, can now be seen as the modern medicine game – which has the ability to not only heal the Confederacy from colonisation but to also change perceptions of their society, heal the relationship with dominant society, and most importantly, establish and promote their sovereignty in the field of international lacrosse.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences