Iroquois Nationals Ready for World Lacrosse Championships in Finland

Gale Courey Toensing

The 2012 Under 19 Men’s World Lacrosse Championships will be held in Europe for the first time this year, and the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team will be there to compete.

The Iroquois Nationals Under-19 team members, some of them as young as 16, will travel to the city of Turku, Finland, in early in July to play in the international lacrosse championships, which will take place from July 12-21.

The Iroquois Nationals is the only indigenous sports team in the world that is playing in international competitions. That’s not surprising considering that lacrosse is central to the social, spiritual and cultural heritage of the Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) Confederacy, which includes the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas and Tuscaroras. While each nation is a separate entity, they share a collective identity as Haudenosaunee and travel on Haudenosaunee passports, rather than individual nation passports. Players from all six nations will be on the team competing in Finland.

This year’s team members are: Frank Brown, Hank Delisle, Orris Edwards, Seth Oakes, Ky Tarbell, Anthony Patterson, Johnny Powless, Quinn Powless, Randy Staats, Brendan Bomberry, Jake Bomberry, Wenster Green, Zach Miller, Lyle Thompson, Chris George, Kyle Isaacs, Jesse Jimerson, Tyler LaFonte, Korin Sunday, Oakley Thomas, Trey Adams, Warren Hill, Vaughn Harris, Dalston Day, and Tyson Bomberry.

The opening ceremonies for the world championship games held under the auspices of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) will be held on July 12 with the series culminating in a Gold Medal game on July 21.

“We have a good crack at the gold,” said Oren Lyons, Onondaga Faithkeeper, chairman of the team’s board of directors, and a former All-American Lacrosse Goalie. Excitement at the upcoming trip to Finland and the competition games is running high among the players, Lyons said. “This team is strong, fast and skilled. Several of our players have been featured in lacrosse publications across the country so we’re going to give a good account of ourselves over there.”

The team will compete against the Czech Republic, Canada, USA, England, Finland, Germany, Korea, Netherlands, and Australia. The Iroquois Nationals U-19 will play their first game at 4:00 p.m. on July 13 versus Team England. All the games will be streamed online at 2012 World Lacrosse World Championships.

In 2010, the Iroquois Nationals team known as “Sovereignty Pride” was not allowed to participate in the World Championships in Manchester, England, when the British government denied the team travel visas. The British refusal to recognize the team’s Haudenosaunee passports created an international media blitz that generated more than 3,000 news articles and videos during a week of diplomatic efforts to convince the British government to change its mind. The incident resulted in massive support for the team in the court of public opinion. 

RELATED: UK Denies Travel Visas for Iroquois Nationals

The team is not anticipating any hitches in traveling this year, however, said Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a member of the Iroquois Nationals board of directors and the team’s legal counsel.

“The host government, Finland, has issued the team with visas and we’ve been told by the U.S. that they will recognize any visa issued by another government,” Gonnella Frichner said.


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