Lacrosse Clinics Teach Culture and Engage Community

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lacrosse_clinics_teach_culture_and_engage_community_2.jpgIndigenous Lax kicked off its first

lacrosse clinic on Feb. 15 with special guest speaker and Edmonton

Rush player Jeremy Thompson (Onondaga). He also plays for the

Iroquois Nationals, is a Nike N7 Ambassador and the co-star of a

documentary titled, “The Medicine Game.” He shared his knowledge

and experiences with 30 Native youth representing the Arapaho,

Blackfoot, Dakota, Ho-Chunk, Lakota, Ojibwe, Omaha, Potawatomi and

Yakama nations.

The goal of these introductory

clinics is two-fold: introduce Native youth to the history and

significance the game has to many tribal communities; and to teach

them the foundational skills they need to compete in lacrosse leagues

in the Twin Cities.

“Both Native and non-Native

[people] locally seem to think the sport is for and began with White

Americans from elite communities and schools,” Clinic Director

Shane Thompson (Odawa/Seneca) said. “This is far from the truth.”

Lacrosse is one of the oldest sports

in North America. According to oral history passed on to Jeremy

Thompson, “lacrosse has been played for thousands of years and the

first game was played by the animals.” He went on to elaborate that

the game between the animals relates to today by acknowledging that

every player has a role regardless of speed, strength or size.

“It’s a collective learning

journey because I myself don’t know the whole history of it locally,

but somebody does and we’re trying to get those people to talk to our

kids about it and offer a different perspective,” Shane Thompson

said.

To help educate youth about the

history of lacrosse, Shane Thompson plans to bring in a different

guest speaker each week. In addition to Jeremy Thompson, Dan Ninham

(Oneida) from Minnesota Ojibwe Lacrosse offered his perspectives

about the traditional game to the group at the Feb. 23 clinic. Future

presenters include Cherokee author and lacrosse enthusiast Art

Coulson and Ojibwe artist Robert DesJarlait.

In addition to introducing youth to

the historical and cultural significance of the sport, Indigenous Lax

aims to increase wellness in the community by promoting fitness.

“We’re hoping that it’s another

motivator to get kids moving in the fight against diabetes and

obesity,” Shane Thompson said. He started the clinics as part of

his senior year internship through the University of Minnesota’s

Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies program.

Indigenous Lax is funded by the

Circle of Generations program at the Minneapolis American Indian

Center and is supported and staffed by Homegrown Lacrosse. The

program is still looking to partner with organizations in the Native

community to reach out to youth across the Twin Cities.lacrosse_clinics_teach_culture_and_engage_community.jpg

“This is a community

collaboration,” Shane Thompson said. “Any organization that wants

to be involved can be.”

The clinics will be held every

Saturday through March 15 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the

Minneapolis American Indian Center. Indigenous Lax is open to youth

from third to eighth grades, is free of charge and includes lunch and

transportation. To register, parents can visit

www.homegrownlacrosse.org/indigenouslax or contact Shane Thompson

directly at shane@homegrownlacrosse.org or 612-708-0699.

He hopes these introductory clinics

will engage and inspire enough Native youth to field teams for local

Parks and Recreation Board leagues, which run from April 12 to May

17. “We want to kids to take away the fact that their people were

the originators of the game and that there’s a deep history

involved,” he said. “We’re trying to get them to realize the

importance of the game, how it was a gift from the Creator to be

played for his enjoyment."