Iroquois men's national lacrosse team

The Iroquois men's national lacrosse team, known as the Iroquois Nationals, represents the Iroquois Confederacy in international field lacrosse competition. They are currently ranked third in the world by World Lacrosse after winning Bronze at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship.[1] The team is organized by the First Nations Lacrosse Association.

Iroquois Confederacy
Nickname(s)Iroquois Nationals
FIL membership1987
AssociationFirst Nations Lacrosse Association
World Championship
Appearances7 (first in 1990)
Best resultThird place (2014, 2018)


For Native Americans lacrosse is more than a sport, originally played as part of a spiritual endeavour meant to praise and give thanks to the gods, a tradition still followed today by the Iroquois Nationals. For example, before each game the Iroquois Nationals gather around their spiritual advisor who leads a traditional tobacco-burning rite, in addition to other rituals in an effort to prepare players before they take the field.[2] The traditions attached to lacrosse extend to the wooden sticks, central to the Iroquois religion and culture.[3] Specifically, males are given a miniature wooden lacrosse stick at birth, sleep with their stick nearby throughout their life, and even take one to the grave. It is believed that the first thing an Iroquois does after reaching the afterlife is grab the stick placed in his coffin.[3] The importance given to these wooden lacrosse sticks stem from the belief that these are gifts from Mother Earth. The Iroquois believe that a living organism (i.e., a tree) died to make the stick and that its spirit has been transferred to the stick's owner. Therefore, the Iroquois play humbly in an attempt to honour the tree's sacrifice.[3]

Although holding cultural importance among Iroquois communities, lacrosse has been described primarily as a men's game.[4] After the recognition of the male lacrosse team in the 1980s, a group of female Haudenosaunee lacrosse players attempted to create a national women's team. However, Haudenosaunee leaders refused to sanction a women's team citing traditional and cultural restrictions. Despite this, lacrosse remained vital to the national identity of Haudenosaunee women.[4] Ultimately, the Haudenosaunee women were able to form a national team, becoming members of the FIL in 2008.[5]

The Iroquois Nationals men's lacrosse team was formed and sanctioned by the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee in 1983 in preparation of friendlies at the NCAA championship in Baltimore, Maryland.[6] The Nationals lost to the Syracuse Orange 28-5 and the Hobart Statesmen 22-14.[7] Prior to the 1984 Summer Olympics, the Nationals held the Jim Thorpe Memorial Games and Pow-Wow, a 6-team event with local and international teams in Los Angeles.[6][8] The nationals achieved their first victory over the national team of England. The following year, using their Haudenosaunee passports, the Nationals traveled and toured England losing only once.[7]

The Iroquois Nationals team is the only Native American team with international recognition as a sovereign people.[3] After being denied membership by the International Lacrosse Federation (ILF) to compete in the 1986 World Lacrosse Championship in Canada, the Iroquois hosted the teams for preliminary games at the University of Buffalo.[6] The IFL accepted the Iroquois as a full member nation in 1988.

The Iroquois Nationals took part in their first international competition at the 1990 World Lacrosse Championship in Australia, finishing fifth out of five teams. They warmed up for the world championship by competing in the Lacrosse USA tournament in Syracuse against top men's club teams.[9]

Nike deal

Historically, the Iroquois Nationals operated on a very small budget while simultaneously trying not to accept any financial resources from the Canadian and American governments in an attempt to assert their sovereignty through financial independence.[4]

In 2006, the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Program signed a partnership with Nike, Inc. in which Nike will provide the Nationals with their brand uniforms, clothing, footwear, and other equipment.[10] The company is to develop programs to "promote wellness-and-fitness activities in Native American communities throughout the region", and team members may go to speak to local groups. Team members will also assist in testing of sustainable produced sportswear for Nike's research and development of processes to use non-toxic dyes and biodegradable organic cotton.[11]

Nike is the only Fortune 500 company to have such a relationship with a Native American organization, and the Iroquois Nationals are the only such group.[12] This partnership extends beyond simply providing equipment and apparel and includes programs to promote wellness and fitness among Native American communities.[13] This focus on the promotion of physical activity among Native Americans is part of Nike's Native American Business Program; they have worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Services to establish and manage physical activity programs among Native American communities.[14] These programs are particularly important given the disproportionately high rates of obesity and diabetes among Native American communities.[15]

Passport issues

The Iroquois Confederacy began issuing their own passports in 1927 and its holders were able to travel without problem for many years.[2] However, with stricter security measures following the 9/11 terrorist attack, the European Union member states no longer recognized the Iroquois Confederacy passports as legal travel documents. While holders of these passports were still able to enter Canada, neither the United States nor Canada recognized the passports as valid travel documents.[2]

These passports became an issue when the Iroquois Nationals attempted to enter England for the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship held in Manchester. The Nationals were unable to attend and compete in the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship in England as the United Kingdom did not accept their Iroquois passports. The Nationals’ players were told by British officials to obtain either U.S. or Canadian passports if they wished to enter the country, as the team's 23 players were eligible to be issued passports from these countries.[16] The Iroquois Nationals refused to travel with Canadian or American passports, arguing that this would be a strike against their identity. As a result, the Nationals were forced to forfeit their three preliminary games.[17][18] In 2015, while traveling to the United Kingdom (UK) for the Under-19 World Championship in Scotland, the Haudenosaunee women's national lacrosse team were refused entrance into the country due to the same passport issues faced by the Iroquois Nationals in 2010. Ultimately, like their male counterparts, the Haudenosaunee refused to travel under Canadian or American passports.[5] In 2018, the Iroquois Nationals’ travel arrangements to Israel for the World Lacrosse Championship were delayed due to passport issues once again. However, after the intervention of the Federation of International Lacrosse and the local organizing committee, the Israeli and Canadian governments were able to resolve the issue and lift the travel restrictions.[19] As a result, the Iroquois Nationals arrived just before the opening ceremonies and their first game.[20]


Event Member Award
2002 WLC Neal Powless All World Team
2006 WLC Brent Bucktooth All World Team - Midfield
2014 WLC Lyle Thompson All World Team - Attack
2014 WLC Jeremy Thompson All World Team - Midfield
2018 WLC Austin Staats All World Team - Midfield

World Lacrosse Championship

Overall results

World Lacrosse Championship
Year Host GP W L GF GA Finish
1990 Australia 4 0 4 44 82 5th
1994 England 6 2 4 68 87 5th
1998 United States 7 2 5 56 115 4th
2002 Australia 7 2 5 55 100 4th
2006 Canada 8 4 4 125 107 4th
2010 England 3 0 3 0 3 -
2014 United States 8 5 3 96 75
2018 Israel 8 5 3 94 84
Total 51 20 31 538 653 2 Bronze Medals


7 July 1990 (1990-07-07) 1990 PreliminaryIroquois 15−18 CanadaPerth
8 July 1990 (1990-07-08) 1990 PreliminaryIroquois 10−26 United StatesPerth
11 July 1990 (1990-07-11) 1990 PreliminaryIroquois 7-23 AustraliaPerth
12 July 1990 (1990-07-12) 1990 PreliminaryIroquois 12−15 EnglandPerth


20 July 1994 (1994-07-20) 1994 PreliminaryIroquois 11-26 AustraliaManchester
22 July 1994 (1994-07-22) 1994 PreliminaryIroquois 16-2 JapanManchester
23 July 1994 (1994-07-23) 1994 PreliminaryIroquois 6-19 EnglandManchester
25 July 1994 (1994-07-25) 1994 PreliminaryIroquois 6−26 United StatesManchester
28 July 1994 (1994-07-28) 1994 PreliminaryIroquois 16-20 CanadaManchester
29 July 1994 (1994-07-29) 1994 5th Place FinalIroquois 19-13 JapanManchester



7 July 2002 (2002-07-07) 2002 PreliminaryIroquois 6−22 United StatesPerth
8 July 2002 (2002-07-08) 2002 PreliminaryIroquois 17−9 EnglandPerth
9 July 2002 (2002-07-09) 2002 PreliminaryIroquois 8−20 CanadaPerth
10 July 2002 (2002-07-10) 2002 PreliminaryIroquois 5−19 AustraliaPerth
10 July 2002 (2002-07-10) 2002 Second RoundIroquois 19−14 JapanPerth
14 July 2002 (2002-07-14) 2002 SemifinalIroquois 8−18 United StatesPerth
14 July 2002 (2002-07-14) 2002 Bronze MedalIroquois 11−12 AustraliaPerth





Other tournaments and games


17 July 1984 (1984-07-17) Jim Thorpe Memorial Pow-WowIroquois 17-8California All-StarsWhittier, California
18 July 1984 (1984-07-18) Jim Thorpe Memorial Pow-WowIroquois 11-17 CanadaWhittier, California
19 July 1984 (1984-07-19) Jim Thorpe Memorial Pow-WowIroquois 6-15 AustraliaWhittier, California
20 July 1984 (1984-07-20) Jim Thorpe Memorial Pow-WowIroquois 10-9 EnglandWhittier, California
21 July 1984 (1984-07-21) Jim Thorpe Memorial Pow-WowIroquois 13-22 United StatesWhittier, California
4 October 1985 (1985-10-04) Goodwill TourIroquois 12−12 EnglandUrmston
6 October 1985 (1985-10-06) Goodwill TourIroquois 14−16 EnglandDidsbury
1985 (1985) Goodwill TourIroquois 22−17UnknownManchester
1985 (1985) Goodwill TourIroquois 14−12UnknownManchester
1985 (1985) Goodwill TourIroquois UnknownManchester
3 October 1986 (1986-10-03) Fall Ball TournamentIroquois 7−6Clarkson Golden KnightsNew York
3 October 1986 (1986-10-03) Fall Ball TournamentIroquois 7−9Potsdam BearsNew York
3 October 1986 (1986-10-03) Fall Ball TournamentIroquois 6−6Clarkson Golden KnightsNew York
10 October 1987 (1987-10-10) Canadian Field Lacrosse ChampionshipsIroquois 11−10OntarioMontreal
10 October 1987 (1987-10-10) Canadian Field Lacrosse ChampionshipsIroquois 12−15British ColumbiaMontreal
11 October 1987 (1987-10-11) Canadian Field Lacrosse ChampionshipsIroquois -ManitobaMontreal
12 October 1987 (1987-10-12) Canadian Field Lacrosse ChampionshipsIroquois -ManitobaMontreal
3 September 1988 (1988-09-03) 1988 Iroquois Indian FestivalIroquois 8−9Mohawk Lacrosse ClubCobleskill, New York
15 October 1989 (1989-10-15) Fall Ball TournamentIroquois -Penn State Nittany Lions
15 October 1989 (1989-10-15) Fall Ball TournamentIroquois -Villanova Wildcats


1990 (1990) 1990 Iroquois Indian FestivalIroquois -Connecticut Valley Lacrosse ClubCobleskill, New York
24 March 1990 (1990-03-24) Rutgers InvitationalIroquois 4-16Rutgers Scarlet KnightsPiscataway, New Jersey
25 March 1990 (1990-03-25) Rutgers InvitationalIroquois 18-9Ohio State BuckeyesPiscataway, New Jersey
1993 (1993) FriendlyIroquois -Rochester Lacrosse ClubNew York
1993 (1993) FriendlyIroquois -Southern Tier Lax ClubNew York
1993 (1993) FriendlyIroquois -J.P. MulligansNew York
1993 (1993) Strength of Nations TournamentIroquois 8−6Malibu Men's Lax ClubSanta Barbara, California
1993 (1993) Strength of Nations TournamentIroquois 14−2Whittier PoetsSanta Barbara, California



See also


  1. "World Rankings". Federation of International Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  2. "A History of Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse". Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse. 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  3. Price, S. L. "PRIDE OF A NATION". Vault. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  4. Downey, Allan (2012). "Engendering Nationality: Haudenosaunee Tradition, Sport, and the Lines of Gender". Journal of the Canadian Historical Association. 23 (1): 319. doi:10.7202/1015736ar. ISSN 0847-4478.
  5. "The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Story – Florida Lacrosse News". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  6. Lyons, Oren. "From Humble Beginnings in 1982, Iroquois Teams Are Now Among the World's Best". Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  7. Price, S.L. (2010-07-19). "Pride of a Nation". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  8. Rosen, Armin (19 July 2018). "Israel and the Iroquois Earn Their Shot at Lacrosse History". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  9. Wallace, William (June 12, 1990). "Putting Tradition to the Test". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
  10. Ditota, Donna (July 13, 2006). "Iroquois Nationals fitted with dignity". Syracuse Post-Standard. Onondaga Nation. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  11. Fryling, Kevin (2006-07-27). "Nike deal promotes Native American wellness, lacrosse". University of Buffalo Reporter. Retrieved 2006-07-28.
  12. (2006-05-04). "Nike Begins Historic Partnership With The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Organization". Press release. Nike, Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  13. "Nike deal promotes Native American wellness, lacrosse - UB Reporter". Retrieved 2019-02-14.
  14. "Historic Partnership Begins With Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse". Nike News. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  15. "Nike deal promotes Native American wellness, lacrosse - UB Reporter". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  16. Writer, SAMANTHA GROSS, Associated Press. "UK won't let Iroquois lacrosse team go to tourney". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  17. Marshall, Tabitha (August 15, 2013). "The Iroquois Nationals and the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  18. Gross, Samanatha (14 July 2010). "UK won't let Iroquois lacrosse team go to tourney". San Diego Union-Tribune. AP. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  19. Deer, Jessica (12 July 2018). "Iroquois Nationals arrive in Israel for World Lacrosse Championships after passport issues resolved". CBC. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  20. "IROQUOIS NATIONALS PASSPORTS HONORED AFTER DELAY IN TRAVEL TO WORLD GAMES IROQUOIS TAKE ON USA IN OPENING SHOOTOUT" (Press release). Netanya, Israel: Iroquois Nationals. 13 July 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  23. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2017-07-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. "DU lacrosse star Zach Miller's grandfather embodies family, tradition". Denver Post. 16 May 2014.
  29. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2017-07-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. "Iroquois Nationals roster released for Hawaii Lacrosse Invitational". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
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