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BayHawks Visit the Smithsonian Site in Preparation for Native American Celebration Game

June 11, 2019 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) - Chesapeake Bayhawks News Release

SUITLAND, MD - In April, the Chesapeake Bayhawks announced their slate of theme nights for the 2019 season. Among these games, scheduled for August 10th, is the team's Native American Culture Celebration Game. The Bayhawks are committed to honoring the Native American roots of lacrosse, its traditions and a history dating back centuries. "We are fortunate to have Lyle Thompson as a Chesapeake Bayhawk, an individual who embodies the spirit of the game," said Head Coach Dave Cottle. Since, the Bayhawks have added another player of American Indian decent, Brendan Bomberry, who hails from the Six Nations Reserve.

To celebrate the history of lacrosse - called the Creator's Game - and learn about the culture of the nation's native people, the Bayhawks traveled down to Suitland, MD - right outside of Washington, DC - to visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center. There, generous members of the Cultural Resources Center's staff were able to provide a tour of the Smithsonian's artifact archive. The Bayhawks were also honored to meet representatives from the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, National Congress of American Indians and members of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe Tribal Council - the native tribe to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay region.

"Essential to our Native American Celebration campaign have been Keith Colston from the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs and Jamie Gomez from the National Congress of American Indians," said Bayhawks' Director of Operations Will Huff. "It has been inspiring to be partnered with Keith, Jamie and representatives from their organizations. The Chesapeake Bayhawks greatly appreciate both individuals and organizations."

Kelly McHugh, the Supervisory Collections Manager for the Cultural Resources Center, guided the Bayhawks, Commission on Indian Affairs, and Piscataway Conoy Tribe though the facility, showcasing a portion of the 800,000 items in the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) collection.

"I am tremendously excited, hopeful, and pleased to see a professional sports organization take such incredible responsibility for understanding the origins of their sport and the importance that it holds for native people in the past, the present and the future," said McHugh. "I admire the connections and relationships that are being established with the local Maryland tribes."

The tour concluded with a showcase of lacrosse artifacts from several American Indian tribes. This collection included a wide array of hand-crafted sticks across different eras, leather-bound balls, a jersey, and a UAlbany helmet autographed by one of Lyle Thompson's brothers.

"It's amazing to see how everything comes full circle and where it all began," said Brian Phipps, Bayhawks goalie who traveled to Suitland for the event. "My family has a lot of history in lacrosse, but this goes way back even further. It's cool to see the passion and the care that the Native American people had and still have for the Creator's Game and the game of lacrosse. I'm very fortunate to play it professionally to this day."

Phipps was able to pick up one of the sticks to examine the craftsmanship that went into making these elaborate tools. "The goalie stick was a lot heavier than the one I'm used to! The intricate design and the detail that goes into those sticks is really impressive."

The tour concluded as it started - with the group standing in a circle, showing that no person is "above" or more important than any other in the circle. Everyone provided their final thoughts and reflections on the tour and beginning of the multi-organizational relationship.

"Today was very inspiring. It was positive. It was exciting. I am ecstatic that we are having this collaboration from multiple entities to be able to support the Creator's Game. To come here to Maryland to be able to have that game is exciting," said Francis Gray, the Tribal Chair of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe. "For the Creator's Game to be held, there is a collaboration of individuals - everybody has that common goal. While we are not playing the game, we are supporting the game by taking on that same aspect of coming together and we're functioning as a unit to provide that common goal and find that end product so everybody can enjoy."

"Today is a good step of building that foundation to ensure that everybody is inclusive," Gray added. "This is not a network that we built here, we are building that relationship and that takes on a totally different aspect altogether."

The Chesapeake Bayhawks are excited for the continued development of these relationships as they approach the game against the Denver Outlaws on August 10th, and beyond.

"I think the event today planted some seeds and generated some amazing ideas that could be realized for the event on [August 10th]," said McHugh. McHugh also remarked that she is excited to see her organization's collection be highlighted to help encourage education of the Native culture and promote the event.

"This work here - this relationship that we're building - it's going to bring a game to Maryland that has probably never been done before at all, at least in my lifetime," said Gray. "That we are able to see a professional game, the Creator's Game, and the culture that is behind it to me is novel."

The Chesapeake Bayhawks are excited to continue to develop the relationships with these entities going forward to the game against the Denver Outlaws on August 10th.

For more information on the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, please visit goci.maryland.gov/maryland-commission-on-indian-affairs.

If interested in learning about the National Congress of American Indians, go to ncai.org.

To learn more about the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, go to americanindian.si.edu. Information for the Cultural Resources Center can also be found at americanindian.si.edu/explore/collections/crc. You are also able to follow the NMAI on Facebook at @NationalMuseumoftheAmericanIndian, or on Instagram and Twitter at @smithsoniannmai.

For information on the Piscataway Conoy Tribe and their Tribal Council, visit piscatawayconoytribe.com.

If you are interested in attending the Native American Celebration game for the Bayhawks on August 10th at 7:00 PM EST in Annapolis, MD, please visit thebayhawks.com or contact the Chesapeake Bayhawks Ticket Office at 866-99-HAWKS or via email at sales@thebayhawks.com. Tickets are available now and start as low as $15.


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