RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA—It is told that the first game of lacrosse was played between the animals and the birds. This game was won by the winged ones and from thenceforth it has been called the “Creator’s game.” The game was gifted to the two-legged from Creator for enjoyment and as a medicine game for the healing of the people. Due to its Indigenous origins, this ever becoming popular sport seems to run in the blood of Native people.
This was evident at the recent Lacrosse tournament called Rumble in the Hills, which took place in the Black Hills at Rapid City, on the weekend of June 8-9th, 2014. Two inter-tribal traveling teams composed of players from four reservations Ihanktonwan/Yankton, Lower Sioux/Cansa’yapi; Sicangu/Rosebud and Winnebago defeated the Rapid City Shock in a three-game series. The game was very emotional for the Intertribal team as this medicine game is making a historic comeback to the Northern Plains.
The inter-tribal traveling teams 13U and 19U with a roster of 34 players are composed of players from the Lightning Sticks, the War Party and the Thunderhawks. The Lightning Sticks are from Cansa’yapi or Morton, Minnesota and Yankton, South Dakota. The Warparty are from the Winnebago, Nebraska and the Thunderhawks are from Rosebud, South Dakota. The coaches for the intertribal team are Franky Jackson of Morton, Minnesota, Kip Spotted Eagle of Yankton, South Dakota, Corey Holiday from Winnebago, Nebraska and Kevin Hoch Decora of Mission, South Dakota.
The rebirth of this old sport in Oceti Sakowin lands had its humble beginnings at the 2011 Lightning Sticks Lacrosse Camp on the Ihanktonwan Reservation in August of that year. In that year, pro Lacrosse player Brendan Shook had approached the Brave Heart Society of Yankton to explore the possibility of reviving the sport on the Northern Plains. Mr. Shook was interviewed by the Brave Heart grandmothers who then began making plans to host the first camp. As the event became an annual event, participants from Rosebud, Morton, Standing Rock and Yankton began to pursue a vision of the return of a game that was lost for many years due to governmental oppression. Standing Rock has also sent participants to the camps. A camp has also been hosted at Lower Sioux and Crow Creek.
Lacrosse has survived well with the Haudenosaunee peoples and other tribal nations in eastern Turtle Island. The recent movie of the Thompson Brothers has gained a following in Indian Country. The Iroquois Nationals gained the admiration of all when they insisted on using Native passports to travel into Canada, although they were denied. There are many role models.
Lacrosse was traditionally used as a means of healing between parties when hurtful conflicts were eminent. Native history tells of a Yankton Chief, Wa anatan who oversaw a game that last several days, eventually leading to the settling of a conflict between camps. Many of our communities plagued by violence would benefit from this ancient way of resolving conflicts and pursuing healing.
The future looks bright for this inter-tribal team as they are prepare for a number of Lacrosse Camps this summer, including the 4th Lightning Sticks Lacrosse Camp which is slated for August 8-11th, 2014 at Marty, South Dakota.
To find out more about scheduled camps please visit us at www.lightningsticks.org. or follow us on FaceBoook.
There are plans to mobilize a girls’ team from the Brave Heart Society, the Lower Sioux Community and other interested communities as resources become available, as girls from these communities have been already involved in the previous mentioned camps.
For more information in each of the communities, contact: Franky Jackson (507-626-5458); Kip Spotted Eagle (605 481 7626); Corey Holiday (402-922-3944); Kevin Hoch Decora (605-391-0421).