The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019

1:30pm - 3:30pm

Lecture by:
Allan Downey

A gift from the Creator, that is where it all began. In Haudenosaunee culture the game of lacrosse is understood to be a gift from the Creator and it has been a central element of North American Indigenous cultures for centuries. However, the game has undergone a considerable amount of change since the introduction of non-Indigenous players in the 1840s. From that point on, the game was appropriated from Indigenous peoples and molded into a sport stripped of its original cultural and ceremonial significance, reframed instead to exemplify Victorian Anglo values. Through this reformulation, non-Indigenous lacrosse enthusiasts attempted to establish a Canadian identity through the sport and barred Indigenous athletes from competition. And yet, lacrosse’s Indigenous originators continued to play the game and claim it as a significant piece of their identities.

While the game was being appropriated and used to construct a new identity for those that identified with the nation-state of Canada, this presentation will demonstrate it was also at the centre of Indigenous forms of resistance to residential school experiences, a site of pan-Indigenous political mobilization in the first half of the twentieth century, and important venue for articulating Indigenous sovereignty on the world’s stage in the second-half of the twentieth century.

About The Lecturer

Allan Downey

Allan Downey is Dakelh, Nak’azdli Whut’en, and an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. Author of The Creator’s Game (2018), Allan is a recent recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Columbia University where he continued to advance his research focused on the history of Indigenous nationhood, sovereignty, and self-determination. Beyond his research and teaching activities, one of Allan’s greatest passions is working with Indigenous youth and he volunteers for several Indigenous communities and youth organizations throughout the year.