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Native American Heritage

Respect. Honor. Peace. Unity.

These are just a few of the values that are ingrained within the culture of lacrosse, a sport with deep spiritual roots that originated with Native Americans. Gifted to them by the Creator, lacrosse is more than just a game for Native peoples. It runs so much deeper.

The history

Lacrosse is one of the oldest team sports in North America, with documented roots that date back to the early 17th century. Native American lacrosse was played throughout modern Canada, but was most popular around the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic seaboard, and American South. Traditional lacrosse games were sometimes semi-major events that could last several days, with as many as 100 to 1,000 men from opposing villages or tribes participating. Some games were played to settle inter-tribal disputes, while other times lacrosse was played to toughen young warriors for combat, or for recreation, or as part of festivals, or for religious reasons. Ultimately, it was always for the pleasure of the Creator. Modern day lacrosse descends from and resembles the stickball games played by these various Native American communities.

National teams

The Haudenosaunee Nationals represent the Native American community in World Lacrosse events. The men's field team is currently ranked third in the world by World Lacrosse after winning the bronze medal at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship. The men's team took part in its first international competition in 1990 at the World Lacrosse Championship in Australia, finishing fifth out of five teams. 

The women's program became a full member of World Lacrosse in 2008, and played in its first World Cup tournament in 2009 in the Czech Republic. Their highest finish was 7th place at the 2013 championship yournament in Canada. 

In men's box lacrosse, the Haudenosaunee Nationals have finished as the silver medalist at every World Lacrosse championship held since 2003.


The Hiawatha Belt, represented on the purple flag many lacrosse fans have seen for the Iroquois Nationals and Haudenosaunee women at international lacrosse events, represents the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It depicts the five original Haudenosaunee nations that came together in a peaceful democracy in the 12th century. From left to right, it’s the keepers of the western door, the Seneca; then the Cayuga; the tree in the center represents the Onondaga, the capital of the confederacy; next is Oneida, and on the far right is the Mohawk, the keeper of the eastern door. A sixth nation, the Tuscarora, joined the Confederacy in 1722.

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