Last week, the Sticks-2-Schools program, accompanied by Stealth players Brett Bucktooth and Chris McElroy and team mascot, Bomber the Fox, visited the Snoqualmie Tribal Youth Camp. The young members of the Snoqualmie tribe were treated to a lesson on the history of lacrosse and received basic instruction on how to play North America’s oldest sport.
Bucktooth and McElroy met with the children at Camp Waskowitz in North Bend, Wash. McElroy started the day with a discussion on the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t a typical Sticks-2-Schools appearance for McElroy, who serves as an instructor for the program during the school year, but the new setting was welcome for the Stealth defenseman.
“Usually, Sticks-2-Schools events are held in school gymnasiums as part of a PE class,” he said. “At the Snoqualmie Camp, we had more time to have an open discussion and really get into even more lacrosse activity. That and the fact that we were using a Native American sport to illustrate the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle to a group of Native American youth made it a very special and unique experience.”
Native Americans have played lacrosse for centuries; its origins are traced back to the tribes of the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada. Known as The Creator’s Game, lacrosse was used to settle disputes, train warriors and as a medicine game when hardship fell on an individual or entire tribe.
Bucktooth, who is a member of the Oneida tribe, continued the discussion with an introduction to the history of lacrosse and the role it continues to play in the culture of Native Americans. Also in attendance to provide more insight into the history of the game were Native American Liaisons Robert Upham and David Waterman.
“Today, people of all races play the game as competition and sport,” said Bucktooth, who also plays lacrosse for the Iroquois Nationals. “But, at home we still play as our ancestors played. We still use lacrosse in our ceremonies as a medicine of healing; healing for the community and for individuals who need it. That’s something special because we are playing for other peoples’ well being and not ourselves. It was great to be able to share those beliefs with the youth of the Snoqualmie Tribe.”
Following the discussion, Bucktooth and McElroy brought the campers outside for some lacrosse instruction. Sticks-2-Schools donated lacrosse sticks and balls to the Snoqualmie Tribal youth Camp and the campers put them to good use. The Stealth stars taught the basics of the game, including passing and catching, picking up ground balls and cradling to get things started. The group played numerous games to utilize their new-found skills and took part in a ceremonial march and chant.
The campers ended their day by having lunch with their new favorite lacrosse players and left camp with a myriad of autographed shirts, balls and posters. It was a unique experience, a first for the Sticks-2-Schools program and a day that everyone involved will not soon forget.
For more information on Sticks-2-Schools, visit www.sticks2schools.org.