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NLL Unites – Heritage 

We believe the game of lacrosse should be celebrated, but first it must be understood. You may already be a fan of our league or play yourself, but lacrosse is more than a game. It has a robust history, and in it is the power to heal.

So, come with us on a journey. Learn about its history. The significance it has for Indigenous People. The values it teaches. The responsibility it imposes on us. The way it always has been and will continue to be used to make our communities healthier and more prosperous.  

  • Was lacrosse created by Indigenous People?

    The Indigenous People believe that lacrosse was given to them by the Creator. They call it the Medicine Game. It is both spiritual and healing. Listen to how Lyle, Miles, and Ty Thompson describe the game.

  • Why is the wooden stick so important?

    Today, most sticks are made from aluminum, titanium, scandium, alloys, or a carbon fiber composite. But, there is something special and sacred about the wooden stick that has been handmade for centuries. Take a look at the video below.

  • What Tribe(s) used to live and play near my favorite team?

    The game of lacrosse is 1,000 years old. The NLL was founded in 1986. The list below shows the Indigenous People who were playing in your town long before we arrived on the scene. Want to search for more locations? Click here

    Team Territory
    Albany, NY Mohican, Haudenosaunee
    Buffalo, NY Wenrohronon, Haudenosaunee
    Calgary, AB Tsuu T’ina, Blackfoot, Métis , Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis
    Denver, CO Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho
    Duluth, GA Cherokee, East, Muscogee/Creek
    Fort Worth, TX Wichita, Tawakoni, Comache, Kickapoo, Jumanos
    Hamilton, ON Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Mississauga, Haudenosaunee, Attiwonderonk, Anishinabewaki
    Halifax, NS Wabanaki, Mi’kma’ki
    Las Vegas, NV Chemeheuvi, Southern Paiute
    New York, NY Wenrohronon, Haudenosaunee
    Philadelphia, PA Lenni-Lenape
    Rochester, NY Seneca, Haudenosaunee
    San Diego, CA Kumeyaay
    Saskatoon, SK Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Blackfoot, Métis, Cree
    Vancouver, BC Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, Stó:lō, Stz’uminus, Squamish, Hul’quimi’num Treaty Group, Coast Salish


    There are hundreds of Tribes that inhabited North America as shown on the interactive map below. Click on it to learn more.

  • What is a Land Acknowledgement?

    A Land Acknowledgment is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of the land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

    It is important to understand the long standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. After hundreds of years of displacement, acknowledging the original inhabits can be quite complex.

    If planning to do a Land Acknowledgement, reaching out to local Indigenous communities and to those forcibly removed from the area in the past to ask how they want to be recognized is suggested. Land acknowledgments can be spoken at the beginning of public and private gatherings, from school programs and sporting events to town halls.

    Making a Land Acknowledgment should be motivated by genuine respect and support for the original inhabitants of the area. While there is no one correct way to deliver a Land Acknowledgement, it is suggested to spend time to evaluate why you are doing it, what you are hoping to accomplish, and fostering relationships with the local Indigenous community and those who have inhabited the land in the past.


  • What movies can I watch about lacrosse and Indigenous People?

    These movies are based on true stories and real events. Both received critical acclaim.

    The Keepers of the Game

    The Grizzlies

  • What is Every Child Matters/Orange Shirt Day?

    The orange shirt comes from a story about a survivor of the residential school system, Phyllis Webstadt. When she was six, with much excitement went to a school wearing a brand new orange shirt given to her by her grandmother. When she arrived, it was taken away, and she never saw it again. Her perspective changed forever.

    The orange shirt is now a symbol of the culture, freedom and self-esteem lost by Indigenous children over generations.

    Now more than ever, players with Indigenous roots are leading the discussion and raising awareness of Indigenous lifestyles and issues, particularly about residential schools.

    With the slogan of “Every Child Matters,” Orange Shirt Day honors survivors, their families, and communities, who continue to be impacted by the atrocities committed by the residential school system.

    Learn more about residential schools by going to the page at the link below.

    Learn More

Orange Shirt Day/Truth and Reconciliation

Orange Shirt Day is held on September 30th and began in 2013. Eight years later, The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was added to the calendar as it became a statutory holiday in Canada (also called Orange Shirt Day). The day honors the lost children and survivors of residential schools, including their families and communities. The title of “Every Child Matters” is used as the headline for honoring these children and acknowledging the history of the residential/boarding schools.

History of Lacrosse

Players and fans of our game know the rules. We want to ensure they also know the history. We encourage you to download and share this handout with your school, league, team and family. It’ll open your eyes to the rich heritage of lacrosse and equip you with facts about Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the United States.

Heritage News From Across the NLL

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