The Chesapeake Bayhawks professional lacrosse team will celebrate Native culture, including a well-earned hat tip to the team’s own Indigenous players Lyle Thompson, Onondaga, and Brendan Bomberry, Six Nations Mohawk.
This Saturday, August 10, is designated as the Native American Celebration Game. The Bayhawks team are recognizing the Native origins of the game of lacrosse, known to many as “the Creator’s game.”
Members of the Bayhawks team traveled to Suitland, Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., to visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center, according to a press release.
There, members of the team learned about Native items in the archives related to the game of lacrosse. They also met with representatives from the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, the National Congress of American Indians and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe Tribal Council, the Native tribe whose ancestral lands includes Maryland's Chesapeake Bay region.
"Essential to our Native American Celebration campaign have been Keith Colston from the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs and Jamie Gomez from the National Congress of American Indians," said Bayhawks' Director of Operations Will Huff in the announcement. "It has been inspiring to be partnered with Keith, Jamie, and representatives from their organizations. The Chesapeake Bayhawks greatly appreciate both individuals and organizations."
Several of the participants in the archive tour offered comments appearing in the release.
Kelly McHugh, the supervisory collections manager for the Cultural Resources Center, guided the Bayhawks team members to see a portion of the 800,000 items in the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian collection. McHugh expressed appreciation for the outreach of the team.
"I am tremendously excited, hopeful, and pleased to see a professional sports organization take such incredible responsibility for understanding the origins of their sport and the importance that it holds for Native people in the past, the present and the future,” McHugh said. “I admire the connections and relationships that are being established with the local Maryland tribes.”
"I think the event today planted some seeds and generated some amazing ideas that could be realized for the event on [August 10th]," said McHugh.
Bayhawk goalie Brian Phipps, who was able to examine traditional lacrosse sticks, also expressed appreciation regarding learning about the origins of lacrosse in as well as the preparation of the August 10 Native celebration game.
"It's amazing to see how everything comes full circle and where it all began," said Brian Phipps, "My family has a lot of history in lacrosse, but this goes way back even further. It's cool to see the passion, and the care, that the Native American people had and still have for the Creator's Game and the game of lacrosse. I'm very fortunate to play it professionally to this day."
Francis Gray, chair of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, also commented on the tour.
"Today was very inspiring. It was positive. It was exciting. I am ecstatic that we are having this collaboration from multiple entities to be able to support the Creator's Game. To come here to Maryland to be able to have that game is exciting,” he said. “For the Creator's Game to be held, there is a collaboration of individuals – everybody has that common goal. While we are not playing the game, we are supporting the game by taking on that same aspect of coming together and we're functioning as a unit to provide that common goal and find that end product so everybody can enjoy."
"Today is a good step of building that foundation to ensure that everybody is inclusive," Gray added. "This is not a network that we built here, we are building that relationship and that takes on a totally different aspect altogether."
"This work here – this relationship that we're building – it's going to bring a game to Maryland that has probably never been done before at all, at least in my lifetime," said Gray. "That we are able to see a professional game, the Creator's game and the culture that is behind it to me is novel."
The Chesapeake Bayhawks will celebrate the Native American Celebration Game against the Denver Outlaws on August 10th at 7:00 PM EST in Annapolis, Maryland. For more information visit thebayhawks.com or contact the Chesapeake Bayhawks Ticket Office at 866-99-HAWKS or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets are available now and start as low as $15.
About The Chesapeake Bayhawks
The Bayhawks are one of four remaining teams that have played in every Major League Lacrosse season since its formation in 2001. Major League Lacrosse is the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league in the world, comprised of the best athletes in their sport, and is focused on providing a family-friendly sporting experience. They have won over 126 regular-season games, 12 of their 17 postseason games, appeared in seven championship games and earned five MLL championships (2002, 2005, 2010, 2012, and 2013).
The Bayhawks play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, and have given Chesapeake area fans the opportunity to be a part of this growing, fast-paced, exciting sports community.