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Olympics Refusing To Let Native American Lacrosse Team Compete Despite the Sport’s Origins

Haudenosaunee Nationals lacrosse player.

There’s an irony to be found in banning a Native American nation team from competing in a sport created by Native Americans. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has granted provisional recognition status for lacrosse, which made many lacrosse fans cheer for inclusion over this decision, but not so fast.

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This would’ve been a win for everybody, especially Americans who recognize lacrosse as an important part of culture and sports history in the country. But players from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a composition of six Native nations from North America, are being excluded from competing by the IOC in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.

This is despite the Haudenosaunee Nationals being recognized by World Lacrosse and being among the best-performing teams in the world at 3rd place. This goes to show that indigenous people had to work harder for recognition, and they still have to double down to prove themselves deserving of a spot to compete in the biggest sporting competition on Earth.

Lacrosse was already being played by tribes in Northeastern America long before European settlers came along to the United States and Canada. Although Geoge Beers published the sport’s first rulebook, the tribespeople in Northeastern America were the ones to create the game. Regardless of the cultural significance and spiritual importance the sport has to the Haudenosaunee, the IOC does not recognize the Haudenosaunee Confederacy among the national Olympic committees. World Lacrosse still hopes to find a “creative solution” to this problem with the IOC.

Many have already rejoiced in the acceptance of lacrosse in the Olympic games. The inclusion of the Haudenosaunee Nationals, regardless of the passports they carry, would be an even bigger step forward for indigenous people in the sporting world. The IOC has a few years to mull this decision over carefully, so hopefully they can adjust rather than bar these players on a technicality.

(featured image: Haudenosaunee Nationals)

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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) is a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue. She graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Japanese Studies. She speaks three languages, but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. As a mixed race bisexual woman, she frequently writes about race, gender and sexuality both academically and professionally. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.

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