The Gathering of Little Turtles: Lacrosse and Language

Wyandotte Annual Gathering - Little Turtles

As expected the weather in Northeast Oklahoma was hot and unforgiving for the first annual Little Turtles Lacrosse Camp. With fifteen of our youth participating, and never having played lacrosse, no one really knew what to expect. We were fortunate to have five player/coaches travel from Ypsilanti, Michigan, home of Eastern Michigan University, to teach our kids how to play the Creator’s game. Throughout the two day camp it was amazing to watch our kids slowly bond to Brian, Tyler, Scott, Alec, and Travis. These five coaches are serious lacrosse players, great teachers, and some of the nicest guys you would ever hope to meet. They taught our kids the basic fundamentals of lacrosse, forged a team, and planted an excitement for the game amid little hearts that are obviously dominated by football. All of this was done with only twelve hours of fun, yet intense training.

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In true Oklahoma fashion it rained, well actually it was a downpour the day we were scheduled to play the Eastern Shawnee in a friendly, yet seriously competitive game of lacrosse. The game was moved indoors to the gym at the Bearskin Fitness Center and a racquetball was substituted for the lacrosse ball that weighs somewhere a little less than fifty pounds. The lacrosse ball is quite heavy, but not quite fifty pounds, and more than capable of drilling holes through the gym walls. Lacrosse is not a contact sport; however, helmets are a necessity to protect against the ball that can travel well in excess of 100 miles per hour. Our kids and the Eastern Shawnee kids played their hearts out for a full hour. It’s not important to say what the final score was, but our Wyandotte kids won the game in convincing fashion. The Wyandotte Nation wants to again extend a big tižamęh (thanks) to Brian, Tyler, Scott, Alec, and Travis for being a wonderful inspiration to our kids. Next year we encourage all Wyandottes and Eastern Shawnee to come support our kids in what will hopefully become an annual game between our two great nations.

IMG_1194Left to right: One awesome Wyandotte lacrosse player, Travis, Scott, Alec, Brian, Tyler, and another awesome Wyandotte lacrosse player.

The Wyandotte Nation is proud to announce and introduce Dr. John Steckley to our citizens. Dr. Steckley has been recruited to assist the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee with our language program. First and foremost Dr. Steckley is a veteran professor and teacher, whereas he has taught anthropology and Native studies at Humber College in Toronto, Canada for 32 years. Dr. Steckley holds a Doctorate in Education from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, a Masters in Anthropology from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and a Bachelors in Anthropology from York University. Considered a leading expert in the ancient Huron language known as Wendat, and the Huron’s culture, Dr. Steckley brings to the Wyandotte Nation an extensive and ever expanding knowledge of Wandat, our native language, with emphasis placed on the work and collection of Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau. The two sister languages, Wendat and Wandat, have many similarities, yet Dr. Steckley is committed to the challenge of teaching or citizens, young and old, Wandat in a way we have never before seen or heard.

Dr. Steckley’s official title, Wyandotte Nation linguist, is best defined as Wyandotte Nation language education coordinator. Commissioned with the daunting task of developing a language program from a vast Wandat word list/vocabulary, Dr. Steckley will be assisting the Wyandotte Nation culture committee with grammar, word structure, and very specific programs designed to get our traditional language back to where it belongs, the hearts and lips of the Wyandotte people. This is a task best managed by an educator with the innate talent to relate to all age groups and turn the intimidating work of learning a new language into a lot of fun.


Dr. Steckley joined us during the second annual Gathering of Little Turtles held June 26-28, where he with seemingly little effort turn learning Wandat words into a lot of fun. Instead of pointing and clicking through a PowerPoint presentation Dr. Steckley, and his wife Angie, playacted a few of our traditional stories with committed passion and vigor. Our children on their own left their seats and encircled John and Angie as Wandat words literally came alive. This was fun to watch not only by the kids participating, but their parents as well.

The Wyandotte Nation extends a heartfelt tižamęh to John and Angie. They did a phenomenal job in a short amount of time. They too returned a sense of hope and infused our language program with a lot of needed energy. We wait with eager anticipation to see what the future holds. In coming months continue to access and learn the online Words of the Month, while waiting with anticipation for announcements coming soon. The Culture Committee will be bringing a diverse language program, including a full online curriculum for everyone young and old.

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