June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada. This is another article in USLaxMagazine.com on sisters Jacelyn & Mimi Lazore, and their stuggles as Native American women, stereotypes, but also their strength through Lacrosse.
An excellent read!
This article, as told to Matt Hamilton, appears in the April 2019 edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, which includes a special 10-page section featuring faces and voices of the Native American lacrosse community. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.
JACELYN: I’m Jacelyn. You can call me Jace.
MIMI: Hi, I’m Mimi.
JACELYN: We’re both from Akwesasne, on the border of Canada and Upstate New York. We grew up playing lacrosse and went to Salmon River High School just outside the reservation for about a year. About 35 percent of the school’s population was Native America. That actually had to teach people at the school about us and our culture. We went to a lacrosse combine near Syracuse and a coach connected us to Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.), where we both went.
MIMI: Part of the reason that college coach connected us to Northfield Mount Hermon was because they believed that the school that we went to would not prepare us well enough for college. That just goes to show how education is not treated well enough in an area that’s mostly Native American. We have to leave home to get the proper education that coaches needed to be able to go to their college. There were some coaches that backed off us once they found out we were Native Americans because of all the stereotypes that come with that, like the idea that all teenage Native American girls are going to get pregnant and not be able to attend college, or go to college and get too homesick and drop out.
MIMI: We also got the chance to play with the Haudenosaunee team in the FIL World Cup. As we were walking in and seeing the fans in the stands, and watching the games, heads were turning and mouths were dropping because we actually made it to England. Almost at the airport, we didn’t because they weren’t going to accept our passports and that was so frustrating. We arrived at 1 p.m. and we were getting on the same flight as team Canada. Team Canada arrived at 2:30 and they crushed right by us because they were using their Canadian passports. It was almost to the point where they were forcing us to use our other passports, which would take away the entire purpose of going to England as Team Haudenosaunee. It meant a lot that we even made it there.
JACELYN: After NMH, we had a connection that brought us to IMG. The school that we were at before, they had a lot of diversity in the school. You were embraced there. Flip it over and you come to this school — it’s very much like a business-type school. A lot of the kids we meet, they embrace materialistic things. Both Mimi and I had to only speak to people that want to listen. There’s a certain type of privilege. There’s a privilege to where ‘I have everything, but I want to listen to you.’ But there’s another privilege of ‘I have everything, so if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care.’
JACELYN: There’s a lack of confidence from generation to generation because we’ve been given such false hope that people start to believe it. It’s hard for us to speak up for ourselves. Lacrosse has opened doors for us, but it has also built our character. It’s a bigger thing than you, and it’s for the community as a whole. It’s going to teach people how to have confidence and speak up.
MIMI: The core of this issue would have to go back to the education and just being educated on the fact that Native Americans are still here and history is told by one point of view that isn’t ours. One of my goals in my lifetime is to give back to my community and also fight for and advocate for rights for Native Americans. Bigger and better opportunities for the little kids because it changed my life to be liberated through education on the struggles and loss that made me feel like I should be proud to be Native American. I never want another kid to go through that.
I hope you enjoyed this article from uslaxmagazine.com. I have tried to bridge the gap of knowledge and understanding this month through videos and articles to help share and celebrate the heritage of a people.