The World Junior Lacrosse Championship is being played in Winnipeg this week.
Teams from all over the world are competing for the global title at the downtown Canada Life Centre, with players between the ages of 16 and 20 making up the rosters.
Team Haudenosaunee is back after the championship’s coronavirus-induced hiatus in 2020 and modified Canadian-only run in 2021.
But Oneniotakowa Maracle, who plays forward, knows their return has been long awaited.
“When the Haudenosaunee are playing, people want to watch because they know that they’re going to see a fun game,” he said in an interview
The team is comprised of athletes from the Six Nations – an Indigenous confederacy spanning the Canada-U.S. border in eastern Canada.
They, along with Team Canada, were undefeated Friday.
Both teams were breaking records: Team Haudenosaunee with the most goals scored in a single game at 28 on Aug. 9 against Israel, and Team Canada with 30 against Australia the next day.
“It’s only right for our team to break a record like that because, you know, this is the game that we gave to everybody else,” said Maracle.
“Everybody else here is participating in this game that’s a gift from the Haudenosaunee people, and it’s a gift from the Creator to us.”
A game as old as time, Lacrosse is believed to have been played by various Indigenous nations for around a thousand years.
Original games lasted days and were played on massives fields with hundreds of players battling it out.
The Haudenosaunee team takes the history of the game and the connection between the sport and their Indigenity seriously.
“Us being Haudenosaunee,” said Maracle, “we’re born into this game; it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of how we live our life.”