When the Mohawk Lacrosse Team Played at the Olympics
Hockey star T.J. Oshie and snowboarder Spencer O'Brien are notable Natives competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and gold medalists Billy Mills (Tokyo, 1964) and Jim Thorpe (Stockholm, 1912) are without a doubt the two most beloved American Indian athletes of all time. Natives, and indeed Indigenous athletes from all continents, have earned Olympic glory under the banner of the countries in which they live. But they've never played for their people, their real people -- they've never played as American Indians, on an exclusively American Indian team.
Or have they? There was that one time, over 100 years ago.
Lacrosse was played at the 1904 Olympic Games, held in St. Louis -- it was one of just two Olympics (the other being 1908) to feature the Creator's Game as an official sport (it was brought back as a demonstration sport in 1928, 1932, and 1948). That year, Canada fielded two teams: The Winnipeg Shamrocks and the Mohawk Indians. According to a writer (unidentified) at Sports-Reference.com, the Mohawk team was nearly forgotten by historians:
"Until my earlier work on the 1904 Olympic Games was published in 1981, the Mohawk Indian team was unknown. ... Some sources list the Mohawk Indian team as actually an Iroquois Indian team. They apparently were from the area surrounding Brantford, Ontario."
That "area surrounding Brantford" would be the Six Nations Reserve, Canada's largest First Nations reserve.
The roster, again according to Sports-Reference.com, was as follows: Almighty Voice, Black Eagle, Black Hawk, Flat Iron, Half Moon, Lightfoot, Man Afraid Soap, Night Hawk, Rain in Face, Red Jacket, Snake Eater, and Spotted Tail.
Little evidence of the Mohawk team is available online, and an extensive search of several historical archives turned up not a single picture of the team -- but a few of the gold-medal winners, the Winnipeg Shamrocks:
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