Haudenosaunee Confederacy Lacrosse Games

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy consists of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora Nations. Haudenosaunee means “people of the long house,” but the French settlers also called them “Iroquois.” Each Nation within the Confederacy is a sovereign nation- this sovereignty was not granted by the US, anymore than the US was granted sovereignty from England. Sovereignty is an inherent right and established for all five nations of Haudenosaunee under the Great Law of Peace.

The Haudenosaunee continue to practice their traditional form of government, which dates back to 909 AD, and after which the US government seems to be modeled. The Nation issues its own passports for its citizens, and, unlike most other Indian nations, has never become part of the US government under the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). This also means though that since members of the Nation are not officially part of the US government, they cannot vote in US elections.

Back in 1613 the Two Row Wampum was agreed upon between the Haudenosaunee and the Europeans which recognized each as separate but equal political entities. They agreed to “travel down the river of life together” in peace and friendship with “neither attempting to steer the other’s vessel” or harming the shared environment. While the Haudenosaunee have been true to this treaty, the US has not. Illegal taking of Onondaga land was followed by industrial pollution. Currently, there are 16 EPA designated Superfund sites within Onondaga county alone. Onondaga lake, the shore of which the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was founded is now one of the most polluted lakes in the US (located right outside of the city that claims to call itself Syracuse).

In addition to providing a framework after which the US government seems to be based on, Haudenosaunee gender equality inspired 19th century feminists including the famous Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

“Division of power between the sexes in this Indian republic was nearly equal. Although the principal chief of the confederacy was a man, descent ran through female lines, the siste of the chief possessing the power of nominating his successor,” Matilda Joslyn Gage, a contemporary of Stanton expressed.

On the last weekend in September of this year, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy gathered on Onondaga Nation territory to celebrate Deyhontsigwa’ehs- The Creator’s Game (otherwise known as Lacrosse).

Along with the five Nations, the Canadian Six Nations people also joined in at the event (Haudenosaunee refugees who fled to Canada when the Europeans began attempting to push the native populations out).

At the event old friends caught up, discussed scared sites, spoke against fracking, plastic and pollution and enjoyed the local Onondaga favorite foods including strawberry drink and homemade corn soup.

The weekend was a big party and a celebration of indigenous Haudenosaunee culture. It was also a reminder that our American educational system intentionally leaves out the living history of the Native Americans a lot of the time, and it is important to not only find the right books, but also learn about the Native people living right by you.

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