High 5: Locals are reviving “the Creator’s game” for Wabanaki communities
Plan creation of a league for all Wabanaki communities to compete
BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - We are starting a new segment called “High 5.” The idea is to showcase volunteers or community sports supporters who are making a difference. This week we feature two people who are attempting to revive the passion for lacrosse, or as they call it, the Creator’s game...
“Long story short, lacrosse changed my life,” says Corey Hinton.
After working at clinics around the country Corey Hinton began teaching his passion in Maine.
“Looking for opportunities to give back,” says Hinton, “so I started connecting with folks in the Passamaquoddy communities.”
“I was able to do the community organizing peace,” says festival organizer Sandra Yarmal, “and some fundraising.”
A US Lacrosse first stick grant helped them get started in 2018.
“We did it in our home community, Corey’s and mine, which is Sipayik,” says Sandra.
“At first they were in response to the opioid epidemic. When those events are being received really well we came up with the idea of starting an annual event,” says Corey, “that would be a lacrosse festival.”
Along with support from Wabanaki Health organizations, and Brunswick lacrosse teams, they’ve had festivals at Indian Township and Pleasant Point. With hopes for more in communities near Houlton and Old Town.
“There’s something special happening,” Hinton says, “The kids are picking up and like something natural in the cradle. And the response has been really warm. The kids are coming back.”
“Knowing that they know this guy,” says Yarmal, “and they think that he’s some sort of superhero, and I think that he is.”
Corey teaching them more than skill, but the values of lacrosse, the Creator’s game.
“We played historically here and this was a way that we settle disputes,” says Hinton, “The game is viewed as medicine. So when we play the game we are playing for the enjoyment of the creator. We are playing in hopes that the creator will give us good medicine for playing in the right way.”
Bringing communities together for hundreds of years.
“Different parts of the village would come together and prepare the field, prepare the ball there was a whole ceremony just to prepare the ball itself,” says Corey, “Then the game and the feast.”
“We would have weekend what we call socials,” says Sandra, “and it would be potlucks, and drumming, and traditional dancing, and lacrosse. It will be nice to be able to bring that back.”
Through the first stick grants and the festivals they’ve already started to revive the game here.
“I got a Facebook message from a community member saying Corey for the first time in my entire life I was driving around the reservation and I saw two kids playing with lacrosse sticks that they got from you last weekend,” says Hinton.
“We were able to put complete gearsets into both Passamaquoddy communities,” says Yarmal, “and in 2019 we actually received the first state grant and we received a diversity and inclusion grant to expand the creators game to the young women in our communities.”
They hope all ages and abilities continue to learn to love the game and bring all the Maine communities together again.
“There’s five Wabanaki communities in Maine,” says Hinton, “For each of the communities to have their own team, different age groups, so that ultimately there can be a Wabanaki confederacy league.”
Corey is also working on a very special project with the world-famous Thompson brothers “4 the future foundation.” He hopes to further his mission in Maine soon...
They certainly deserve a High 5 for their work.
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