Teh hon tsi kwaks eks * Guh jee gwah ai
"Creator's game" by Kanatiiosh 2001©
Lacrosse is more than just a game to the Iroquois people (the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora), for it is a spiritual tradition that is woven into the fabric of our heritage. As Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of Onondaga, says, lacrosse is "the life blood of the Six Nations."
The Iroquois believe lacrosse to be a gift from the Creator. A gift that is played by the Iroquois for the Creator's enjoyment and to heal. Lacrosse is played to restore harmony to the people and the Natural World. During specially called ceremonial medicine games lacrosse is played to heal people.
The Iroquois did not call the ball and webbed stick game lacrosse. The Mohawk call the game teh hon tsi kwaks eks. The Onondaga call the game guh jee gwah ai. The Oneida call the game ga lahs.
The Iroquois have been playing lacrosse since time immemorial. When the Europeans came to North America, they saw the Iroquois playing a ball and webbed stick game.
The French Jesuits thought the webbed sticks used by the Iroquois to throw and carry the ball resembled a Shepherd's crook, a crosier, like the ones carried by bishop's and abbots to show their authority. Soon the French began to refer to the ball and webbed stick play as le jeu da crosse. Today the word lacrosse has become the generally used term to describe the Creator's game the Iroquois call teh hon tsi kwaks eks, guh jee gwah ai, and ga lahs.
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