Reclaiming Health, Culture and Tradition with Lacrosse by Sasha Brown
Over the past year, Indigenous youth and families have been coming together in south Minneapolis to revitalize the traditional game of lacrosse, the original game of North America.
For our people, lacrosse is much more than a sport. Lacrosse is an integral part of our history. It embodies our value systems, teachings, and Indigenous worldviews. Lacrosse has always been used to heal our people, to settle disputes, and to bring together our families and tribal nations.
My name is Sasha Houston Brown. I am Mdewakanton Dakota from the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska and I have the honor of working as a coach with Twin Cities Native Lacrosse. Twin Cities Native Lacrosse is dedicated to empowering Indigenous youth to reclaim their cultural, physical and spiritual strength as community leaders and athletes. We work to create safe environment where youth can build positive self-identification and self-esteem rooted in our Indigenous cultural values. In bringing back lacrosse, we are bringing back the practices our peoples used for millennia to promote optimal health.
The girls and boys I work with truly embody the vision of Well For Culture. Both on and off the field, they are learning to live by our ancestral teachings and re-indigenizing their physical, spiritual and emotional health. The Creator’s Game is in their blood, their ancestry, their genetic memory. You can see it from the very first time our youth pick up a stick.
When we step out on the field to play Thakâpsičapi (Dakota)/Baaga’adowewin (Ojibwemowin) our youth are playing for their ancestors, the sick, those in need of healing, and future generations. Even when competition gets fierce, we remind each other that we are relatives and that this game isn’t about winning, it’s a medicine game given to us by the Creator to ensure the well-being and survival of our peoples.