Via Inside Lacrosse, a report that the White House has endorsed the idea of the Haudenosaunee Nation being included in the Olympic lacrosse pool:

President Joe Biden announced his support for the Haudenosaunee to compete at the 2028 Olympics under their own flag.

Speaking at the Tribal Nations Summit, he said: “The Six Nations team asked to compete under its own tribal flag. Today, I’m announcing my support for that request.

“Their ancestors invented the game. They perfected it for millennia. Their circumstances are unique. They should be granted an exception to field their own team at the Olympics.”

In a moment when pretty much every lacrosse fan has voiced his or her support for the Haudenosaunee Nationals to participate in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, those fans can now count the world’s most powerful man among their ranks.

In a speech at Wednesday’s Tribal Nations Summit at the White House, President Joe Biden is expected to announce his support for the Haudenosaunee to compete under their own flag in lacrosse at the Games.

“The Haudenosaunee Confederation literally invented lacrosse almost 1,000 years ago. It has been part of their culture. It has been their gift to the world. Their their mantra is peace, friendship and healing through sport. They are a population of roughly 200,000 and yet, they excel at a global level,” Tom Perez, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, told IL on Tuesday. “They not only invented lacrosse, but they excel at lacrosse and they have set an example through what they have done. Now that lacrosse will be an Olympic sport for 2028 and they are petitioning the IOC to be able to march under their flag, we believe that they have met the criteria for inclusion.”

In his speech, Biden will recognize that, due to the Confederacy’s unique role in inventing the sport of lacrosse, their sustained global leadership within the sport since its invention, and their Nation-to-Nation request for support, they should be granted a narrowly-scoped exception to field their own team.

On Oct. 16, International Olympic Committee approved lacrosse for inclusion in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, culminating a years-long process that included — among other things — rapid expansion of national governing bodies around the globe and the development of a new discipline. The Sixes discipline will be utilized, and World Lacrosse will now set out on developing a proposal for the IOC about how the sport will function leading up to and at the Games, including everything from the qualification process and how many teams will participate in L.A.

At present, the Haudenosaunee are not eligible to participate because they have not yet met the IOC’s criteria, including having formed a recognized National Organizing Committee. In the wake of the high-profile process surrounding the Haudenosaunee’s inclusion in the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Ala., the global sporting community seems to understand the importance of the men’s and women’s teams’ participation in the Olympics — among the most important voices being LA 2028 chairman Casey Wasserman.

“The indigenous people of North America created lacrosse. If we could find a solution to allow them to compete, that would be incredible,” Wasserman told Sportico on Oct. 13. “We don’t have that solution today because it requires the IOC to create a competition structure other than the norm. I understand this is not a simple decision, but we would love to see it, I think it would be a really powerful moment for our country and for the sport.”

Perez said the White House will work side by side with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to advocate at the IOC level for their inclusion in 2028. When asked what exactly that entails, he added: “We will be submitting a letter to the IOC memorializing our support. We’re working closely with our Canadian counterparts and are very hopeful and optimistic that they will join us in this.”

Perez added that support for the Haudenosaunee’s participation doesn’t just come from the U.S. and (potentially) Canadian governments and each nation’s governing body, but also from the non-Native athletes from United States and Canada.

The support has not gone unnoticed by the Haudenosaunee leadership and its athletes.

“World Lacrosse and Haudenosaunee Nationals Lacrosse express our sincere gratitude to President Biden and the United States government for their expressed support of Haudenosaunee inclusion in the lacrosse competition at the LA28 Olympic Games. Recognition of the cultural significance of lacrosse to the Haudenosaunee people — and the Haudenosaunee people to lacrosse — is an important step in our Olympic journey,” the two entities said in a joint statement provided to Inside Lacrosse. “The Olympic Games are the most powerful platform for promoting understanding and peace among nations. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the International Olympic Committee, LA28, and the U.S. and Canadian Olympic Committees to explore potential pathways for the Haudenosaunee to participate in the Olympics while respecting the Olympic Games framework.”

“Lacrosse holds such a sacred place in Haudenosaunee culture, and its inclusion in the Olympic Games reflects the diversity and unity that are central to the Olympic Movement,” says Fawn Porter, who is Cayuga from Six Nations and played at Western University in London, Ont., Canada. “This endorsement by the U.S. government reflects a shared commitment to fostering inclusivity, and will help build additional momentum as we continue our journey as Haudenosaunee people with a desire to bring the medicine of lacrosse to the world.”

“This marks a positive step forward in the ongoing journey toward a more inclusive and respectful world of sports, and ensuring that indigenous voices and traditions are celebrated on the world stage,” says Randy Staats, a forward for the Halifax Thunderbirds, two-time pro field lacrosse all-star and All-American at Syracuse. “We approach this the way we do the game of lacrosse: with open hearts and open minds. We remain very optimistic that an Olympic pathway can be identified that both honors our deep heritage in the sport and respects the existing framework of the Games.”

Perez, a self-identified “lacrosse dad” who spent his summers at tournaments throughout the Mid-Atlantic while his daughter was playing at Blair High School in Montgomery County, Md., summarized his thoughts by saying, “I think this is a really remarkable opportunity to again underscore our relationship here in the United States, our respect for tribal sovereignty, and lacrosse was indeed their gift to the world. And it is a remarkable gift. And in a moment in time when peace and friendship and healing through sport would be welcomed around the world, this seems very timely and very consistent with the Olympic spirit.”


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