The Intercultural Affairs office at Hobart and William Smith will host three events as part of a Native American Conference titled, “Lacrosse; The Creator’s Game.” The conference is focused on the Native American roots of the sport of lacrosse, much of which began centuries ago in upstate New York. The topic of this conference was inspired by the work of Delvina Smith ’09. Smith researched the tale of laurelled Seneca warrior, Agayentah, a story that is entwined with the history of Hobart College. Her work encouraged further discussion on the link between Native American and Hobart and William Smith Colleges history.
The first event of the conference is an exhibition lacrosse game with the Iroquois National Team and Hobart Statesmen at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23 on McCooey Field. Such a meeting is one element of the shared history between the two communities as Hobart and Native American teams used to play lacrosse on the Quad.
The game will open with a traditional peace blessing offered by film director and artist Peter Jemison, a representative from the Seneca Nation of Indians. During half-time there will be a dance performance by Ganondagan’s Spirit Dancers. This urban Native American dance group was formed as a way to teach youth about their culture and traditions. They have travelled across the United States to perform Iroquois social dances.
On Thursday, Oct. 29, there will be a screening of the film “Sacred Sport,” presented by filmmaker Jordan Kligerman at 7 p.m. in the Geneva Room. The movie tells the story of lacrosse from the creation of the game to the World Games of lacrosse played by the Iroquois National team. There will also be a presentation by Alf Jacques on the making of the lacrosse stick.
“The experience of lacrosse players and students will be enriched knowing that there is a history and tradition behind the sport and that the people who started it are nearby,” says Alejandra Molina, director of Intercultural Affairs at HWS.
The conference will wrap up with a “Women in Lacrosse” roundtable discussion on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Seneca Room. The discussion will be led by William Smith Lacrosse Coach Pat Genovese; Sandy Jemison, girls lacrosse coach and former member of the all-Iroquois women’s team; and Tia Smith, Haudenosaunee International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Association Delegate, who will share their personal journeys and the struggles they encountered in pursuing participation in organized lacrosse.
The Hobart and William Smith campus is surrounded by Native American land, culture and tradition. For this reason, the discussion of Native American history will not end with the conference. A Native American Student Association (NASA) was recently approved on campus and will continue the discussion of Native American topics at HWS. Hopefully, the conference and NASA will encourage further collaboration between the Native American and Hobart and William Smith communities.