By TRT Staff with notes from NLL.com
Indigenous lacrosse player Zed Williams of the Seneca Nation, a National Lacrosse League (NLL) champion with the Colorado Mammoth, shared his aspirations with the NLL on November 9.
This past season, the Silver Creek native posted 37 points (the most ever by an Indigenous player in the NLL Playoffs) over seven games. Williams was a Premier Lacrosse League champion in 2020, the PLL’s MVP as well, and one of the best offensive players at the University of Virginia and a record setter for US high school lacrosse at Silver Creek.
Recognizing that Indigenous youth face significant hurdles and may not achieve what they could without the hurdles, Williams explained that he wants that to change.
Cited by the NLL article, numerous studies over the past decade show that Indigenous youth face educational, socio-economic, suicide, loss of cultural identity, and substance-abuse issues at higher rates than the national average in the U.S., and Canada.
In 2018, a survey conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that by 8th grade, 44% of Indigenous youth living on or near reservations in the United States had smoked marijuana compared to 13% of national American children. That same survey found that 40% of Indigenous youth had consumed alcohol compared to 23% of American youths at some point in their lifetime.
Regarding education, data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics found that 74% of Indigenous, Inuit youths graduated from high school compared to the 86% national average in the United States.
Furthermore, according to 2019 data from Kids Count when it comes to home life for Indigenous youth, 52% of Indigenous youth in America live in single-family homes, whereas the average among all races is 34%.
Williams is cited as knowing all too well that many Indigenous youths have struggled with various issues that have led them away from their dreams. For many of those that he knows, lacrosse was an integral part of their lives.
Williams explained that he wants all Indigenous youth to know that it’s easy to fall in love with lacrosse if the sport is given a chance. Playing is a medicine for the mind and the body and can be used to both connect and disconnect at the same time.
Williams would like Indigenous youth to “give lacrosse a real chance to let it grab their heart.” Lacrosse has transformed communities. In closing, it was noted that “lacrosse can change your life.”