It's hard to pinpoint the exact age of lacrosse, but one Onondaga Nation faithkeeper says it's safe to say that while knights were jousting in Europe, Native Americans were playing the game. Now organizers of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship say they're holding the 2015 event in the sport's birthplace. Our Sarah Blazonis has details.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Lacrosse has been part of Oren Lyons' life for as long as he can remember. The Onondaga Nation faithkeeper says one coach brought his team to scrimmage against the Nation during World War I, when only the very young and very old were around to play.
"'If it wasn't for you guys,' he said, 'we could've lost this game entirely. I never forgot that, because for us, everything could stop in the world, and we've still got our league, the six nations. We still play each other," said Lyons.
That long history is why officials say they're proud the Iroquois Nationals have been named hosts of the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. This time, the six nations won't just have each other for company.
"We've got 300 athletes plus 15,000 spectators plus coming into our area for a six day period or even longer," said David Holder, president of the Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Teams from around the world are expected compete in opening rounds at the Onondaga Nation Arena. They'll move on to First Niagara Arena in Buffalo to compete for the gold medal.
Officials say $4 million should be generated in the local economy as a result, something they say isn't surprising given the sport's growing popularity.
"The growth of lacrosse, particularly on the youth level, across the United States has been outstanding," said Jack Emmer, Director of Men's Lacrosse for the Federation of International Lacrosse. "It's played collegiately, it's played in the high schools, etc."
Forty-five member nations belong to the FIL today, up from five a decade ago.
The ten expected to compete in 2015 will be the first ever to play in an international sporting event on indigenous lands, a fitting honor for the game's birthplace.