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Haudenosaunee Nationals advance to championship bracket at World Lacrosse tournament
Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Haudenosaunee Nationals women’s team, representing the sovereign Haudenosaunee Grand Council, has advanced to the championship bracket at the World Lacrosse games.

The women’s team defeated fifth-seeded Scotland on Tuesday afternoon, ensuring a coveted spot in the quarterfinals. The victory was the Haudenosaunee Nationals’ fourth win in a row at the tournament, which is taking place in Towson, Maryland.

“UPSET COMPLETE” is how the move by the lower-seeded Haudenosaunee women, ranked 12th coming into to the games, was described on social media by the World Lacrosse organization.

A day prior, on Monday evening, the Haudenosaunee women sailed to victory against Argentina. But the game was marred by a comment made during the ESPN+ broadcast of the matchup.

With the Haudenosaunee women far ahead in the third quarter of the game, a member of the ESPN+ broadcast team used the offensive phrase “circle the wagons” as a way to explain the losing team’s strategy.

The comment, coming about an hour into the matchup, has historically been used to portray Native people as being aggressive toward non-Natives, often implying a sense of unfairness. Native people who were watching the broadcast heard the phrase and felt it was inappropriate.

By the evening, the World Lacrosse organization issued a statement, saying the broadcaster “sincerely apologized” to the Haudenosaunee team for the use of the “culturally insensitive” phrase.

“We apologize for the culturally insensitive comment made during today’s Haudenosaunee vs. Argentina broadcast during the World Lacrosse women’s championship by a member of the broadcast team,” the statement read.

“The individual has sincerely apologized to the Haudenosaunee team and we are confident the comment was made unintentionally with no malicious intent,” the organization continued. “Both the individual and World Lacrosse have incredible respect for Indigenous people and their history and deeply regret any harm caused.”

The Haudenosaunee team’s next game takes place at 2pm Eastern on Wednesday. The women are facing Australia, one of the higher-ranked teams on the world lacrosse circuit.

Assuming the Haudenosaunee women are victorious, they would take on another opponent on Thursday evening. ESPN+ continues to broadcast the tournament, being held at Johnny Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University outside of Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland.

The event kicked off on July 29. The opening ceremony included a well-received cultural presentation by the Haudenosaunee people that also featured other Native performers.

Depending on the outcome in Maryland, the Haudenosaunee women will set their sights on their next challenge: the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. The top-ranked women’s teams are due to compete there next week.

Haudenosaunee Nations: Road to the Olympics

Looking even further ahead, the Haudenosaunee Nationals have embarked on what they are calling the Road to the Olympics. The organization’s lacrosse teams — women and men — are hoping to compete in the 2028 Olympic games that will take place in Los Angeles, California.

“The Haudenosaunee Nationals intend on participating under our own flag as a world-recognized Nation State,” the organization proclaims.

The teams are raising $150,000 on one funding site to make their dreams come true. Additional fundraising efforts are also underway, with the goal of reaching $600,000.

The Haudenosaunee Nationals are sanctioned by the leadership of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora nations in the United States and Canada. They are the only teams on the world lacrosse circuit that represent sovereign Native governments, with players traveling around the globe on their Haudenosaunee passports.