Onondaga Nation leaders bring lacrosse lessons to White House la


Washington -- In his 81 years, Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Oren Lyons has visited the White House in times of peace and crisis, meeting with both Republican and Democratic presidents dating to the 1970s.
But as a crowd gathered around him this morning on the South Lawn of the White House, Lyons was able to reflect on a history-making day for himself and the Onondaga Nation.
"I've been here many times with many presidents," Lyons said. "But it's the first time with a lacrosse stick."
Lyons, carrying one of his traditional wooden lacrosse sticks, joined other Onondaga Nation leaders and Iroquois lacrosse players who came to teach a new generation about lacrosse and its Native American origins.
Lyons, Onondaga Nation Tadodaho Sid Hill and Alf Jacques, the Haudenosaunee traditional lacrosse stick maker, were among those invited to the White House for its "Let's Move! in Indian Country" event aimed at encouraging youth to exercise and lead healthy lifestyles.
The Obama administration says its goal is to end an epidemic of childhood obesity among Native Americans within a generation. Native youth are more likely than any other race or ethnic group to suffer from childhood obesity and related diseases, such as type-2 diabetes.
Almost 100 local students from the Washington, D.C., area and beyond visited with the Onondagas at five separate stations set up on the South Lawn set up to demonstrate the traditional and modern forms of the game.
Lyons, a former lacrosse star at Syracuse University, joined other current and former national lacrosse stars to show students the proper ways to hold a lacrosse stick and other introductory tips. More advanced pointers were offered to those who were familiar with the game.
With a loudspeaker blaring the song, "Let's move it, move it, move it," stars from Major League Lacrosse, the National Lacrosse League, Iroquois Nationals and Metro Lacrosse offered their advice.
The lacrosse stars at the White House event included Danny Glading, Jeremy Thompson, Brett Bucktooth, and Jenny Collins. Thompson and Bucktooth, both Onondagas, are former SU lacrosse standouts who now play professionally.
Lyons, wearing a black Iroquois Nationals shirt and khaki pants, said he brought along a lacrosse stick to present to President Barack Obama. But it appeared he would not be able to give it to the president personally.
While Lyons conducted a lacrosse clinic on the lawn, Obama was inside the White House briefing room, where he addressed the nation about negotiations with Republicans to raise the national debt limit.

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