The Optimist "O" surrounds an Onondaga warrior. The Onondaga people are one of the original "Six Nations" of the Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee). Today, the Onondagas reside on their original homeland near Syracuse which was granted to them by treaty. The article in our logo bearing the words "Rose Tree Media" is a wampum belt used by the Iroquois. Wampum are beaded shells and strings of wampum were used as currency and as a means to record treaties or historical events.
Why the Onondaga warrior? The Iroquois developed lacrosse and regard it as a gift from the Creator. In 1994, Optimist Lacrosse enjoyed a weekend of lacrosse and celebration with Onondaga players and their families as a prelude to participation in the first World Youth Games held in Manchester, England. Several Onondaga players played on our teams and served to educate us on the importance of lacrosse in their community.
With their permission, the Optimist Lacrosse website contains these word from the website of the Onondaga Red Hawks:
Lacrosse is a game that has been played by the Onondagas and the Haudenosaunee people for countless centuries. The Onondagas consider the game to be a very spiritual game given to them by the Creator and is still played at Onondaga as a spiritual and healing game for the people. In the early 1800's at Onondaga, the Haudenosaunee prophet named Handsome Lake requested the game of lacrosse be played as one of his last wishes before he made his journey back to the Creator's land. The game was played in his honor and assisted him to fulfill his journey.
The Onondagas call the game Dey-Hon-Tshi-Gwa'-Ehs which translated to mean, "they bump hips". The young people are told by the elders that the game is to be respected and to respect your opponent as they also have been given the gift to play the game. Players of all ages from Onondaga participate in an annual spiritual game. The game is played for the spiritual benefit of the Nation and for all those who play the game.
The Onondagas have a long and proud tradition of playing the game and extend their hand to everyone to join them in preserving and playing the oldest team sport in North America,