Native American community welcomes Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team to Colorado

Denver hosting 2014 World Lacrosse Championships

DENVER - Lacrosse teams from 38 countries are converging on Colorado for the 2014 World Championships, which will be held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City July 10 – 19.

One of the teams, the Iroquois Nationals, held a meet and greet Monday with members of the Denver area Native American community at Denver East High School.

The team’s General Manager, Gewas Schindler, told 7NEWS that the Iroquois, also known at the Six Nations or “Haudenosaunee Confederacy,” originated the game before Europeans set foot in the New World.

“It’s more than a game to us,” he said. “It’s a gift from our Creator.  He gave it to us for his enjoyment.”

Schindler said that over time, lacrosse turned into a medicine or “healing” game.

“It scared sickness out of our nation,” he said. “It’s very spiritual.  It’s part of our culture.”

Schindler said that the Iroquois Nationals didn’t compete in the last World Championship games, which were held in England in 2010, because their passports were denied by the U.K.’s equivalent of Homeland Security.

“That was a tough situation for us,” he said. “It was tough for me personally because I played on that team, but we’re putting that behind us and we’re getting stronger.  We’re antsy to get on that field to show our skill and our talent.”

Just prior to the meet and greet, Kenny Frost, spiritual leader of the Ute Nation, welcomed the Iroquois Nationals to Colorado.

“This was Ute country at one time,” Frost said. “Our people roamed the mountains.”

Frost presented the team with two eagle feathers.

“This is a gift,” he said. “We’re making a presentation from the Ute Nation to the Iroquois Nation. The feathers are blessed… as you travel, they will continue to carry the good will and the good words.”

During a short ceremony, each team member was also presented with an Eagle feather.

The Iroquois Nationals are among the top six teams playing in the championships.  The others are Australia, Canada, England, Japan and the U.S.

“We’ve got Gold Medals on our mind,” Schindler said. “We’re confident that we can play with the top teams in the world.  We’re very skilled. We’re very conditioned and we’re here to win.”

The competition begins Thursday, July 10 with a game between the U.S. and Canada.

The Championship game will be played at 7 p.m. July 19.

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