The Whitewashing Of Lacrosse

A new documentary brings lacrosse back to its original owners: the Iroquois

Two summers ago, for the first time ever, an international sporting event took place on indigenous lands. The World Indoor Lacrosse Championship was held on the Onondaga Reservation in upstate New York and was hosted by the Iroquois Nation, or, as they call themselves, the Haudenosaunee.

Today, lacrosse is thought of as white kids' sport played in prep schools in the Northeast, but the sport was invented by the Iroquois Nation some nine centuries ago. For that week in 2015, the sport was back on its home turf. (Spoiler alert: White people usurped that too.)

A new documentary, Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation, dives deep into the Iroquois’ “medicine game,” as it’s known to them, and into how politics and culture collide at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship, far removed from the Exeters and Deerfield Academies of the westernized world. The story centers on Iroqouis coach Chief Oren Lyons and his efforts to promote the team and the sports’ indigenous history. It features appearances by Al Gore, Bill Belichick, Jim Brown, and others.

GOOD talked to the film’s codirectors—Oscar- and Emmy-nominated Peter Spirer and Slamdance founder and filmmaker Peter Baxter— about their film and how in Trump's America it’s more important than ever to promote stories that focus on our true history, on belonging in this country, and on how sport can teach us lessons about both.

What was the genesis of this story as a documentary?

Spirer: When I was working on a bigger project surrounding the Iroquois Nation, one of our writers stumbled across the story of Chief Oren Lyons, the man who has worked tirelessly his whole life to promote awareness of his nation’s sovereignty. He is the coach of the Iroquois, this team that travels throughout the world attending lacrosse games and using their indigenous passport, as opposed to an American one. When they go, others have to grapple with, ‘Who are these guys?’ So it has helped their nation tremendously in spreading their message of Native American identity.

There are a lot of themes that run throughout this film: identity, belonging, sport, history. Was there one aspect that held strongest?

Baxter: For Spirit Game, we wove our story around the battle for a world lacrosse championship. Within that, we showed how the game identifies a sovereign indigenous nation. As we were making the film we found out about the Doctrine of Discovery. This is a five-hundred year-old ‘papal bull’ created by Pope Alexander VI that essentially allowed colonists to take apart indigenous civilization. I need to put it more strongly; it's a murderous document that led to the genocide of millions of indigenous people, enabling one civilization to nearly wipe out another. Incredibly, the doctrine is alive today. Though the Iroquois population and land has been taken away during the last 300 years, their spirit remains. It's this spirit involving, as you say, identity, belonging, sport, and history that has given the Haudenosaunee resilience that defies belief. As Chief Lyons said, ‘We've lost many battles, but we've never been defeated.’ This aspect remains strongest to me. It represents the rise of the Iroquois people and, most importantly, what their civilization wants to share with the world.

Why is a documentary like this important in the current American political climate?

Spirer: Our film tells a counternarrative to what's been taught in school. The Discovery Doctrine was probably the most destructive document ever created, and it was all under the auspices of the Catholic Church. So it's a big part of our history that we don't even know about. I think every school kid should know about it, and I think our film is a great way to introduce it. We have an exciting, action-filled movie, but we also have this teaching moment where we can inform people.

What did you take away from spending time with the Haudenosaunee?

Spirer: I learned many things, but I think the most important lesson was that sport isn’t just about winning, but it's the way you play the game, the way you conduct yourself on the field and the effort that you give. The Iroquois’ primary goal is not to win; their primary goal is to please their creator and to play the game in an honorable and beautiful way.

Baxter: I agree with that. My other takeaway was learning about the value of another civilization. Western civilization, the one I grew up in, taught me about principles based on fact. During the making of Spirit Game, I began to see how those so-called facts are false, and from this how history becomes misrepresented. America is still hopeless at recognizing its imperfections and false history. It loves to tell you and then record how well its done, but, as with the Doctrine of Discovery, can't deal with how often its ‘success’ is based on the misery and destruction of those around them. The Iroquois remind us, as incredible survivors, the extent that one civilization needs to truly recognize another in acknowledging historical truth and healing in order to progress. If we can't do that we are lost. The hope Peter and I share in getting the film out there is that it will help with this discussion, to help educate, as well to entertain.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet