Announcing an addition in honour of @naig2017to #Team88

Ennis Williams lacrosse stick As indigenous athletes from around Turtle Island gather in and around Toronto for the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, I'm very pleased and very proud to be able to announce a very special addition to Voyageur's case that has been a long time coming. So, first, a little background:

Materials comprising the guitar include contributions reflecting sports history from across Canada including basketball, skiing and several related to hockey. From the days of the initial research I had hoped to include something from Canadian Football, baseball, curling and lacrosse but nothing was forthcoming and by the time the guitar was ready to be built we still had no contributions from those sports. The baseball contribution was solved back in 2013 with the addition to the strap of part of a jersey from the Vancouver Asahi Japanese-Canadian baseball team but the other gaps remained. Overtures to the estate of Canada's most beloved curler have been so far unsuccessful and we are still awaiting word about the contribution of a potentially very important piece of CFL history.

During our engagement with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra back in late February of 2013, one of the guitar players on the bill was legendary Windsor-area bluesman John "Johnny V" Mills. He was quite impressed with Voyageur but let me know in no uncertain terms that he felt it was incomplete without the inclusion of something representing the game of lacrosse and that he intended to fix that for me. Backstage on the day of the final performance with the symphony, Johnny presented me with a lacrosse stick with its own historic provenance. Before I could look for ways to incorporate it into the project, I needed more information and authenticated background as well as to have some consultations with the artists who could find a way to keep the integrity of the contribution while bringing it into the case or strap (the only places that are available for amendments and additions to the project). So Johnny and I kept up a correspondence and he sent me some interviews and transcriptions as background. I still had many questions for him when - just over a month after our stint in Windsor - Johnny died of a massive heart attack on March 31st, 2013 and my plans to incorporate the material stalled. On top of that, the first textile artist I consulted with advised that the leather webbing that forms the pouch of the stick might simply unravel and disintegrate if we tried to remove it from the curved ash of the stick.

Eventually, I was able to get some additional background information from Six Nations lacrosse leader Cam Bomberry and a second textile artist, Holly Boileau, informed me that she was confident that she could retain the integrity of the webbing and recreate the feeling of a lacrosse stick at the top of the bed of the guitar case where the headstock of the guitar goes. I'm thrilled that her work was recently completed and right on time to celebrate the North American Indigenous Games and arguably the marquee event of those games currently going on at the Harry Howell Arena in Hamilton and the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena and the Gaylord Powless Arena both on Six Nations. The latter is located in Ohsweken where our stick was made by Ennis Williams. Here is the full description from the Six String Nation materials gallery:

Modern lacrosse is derived from the Mohawk game of tewaarathon developed over 500 years ago, becoming popular among non-aboriginal players in the 1800s. Long considered Canada's national game, it was declared Canada's official summer sport in 1994. Ennis Williams was one of two famed stick making families on Six Nations but traditional wood stick-making is becoming a lost art. This particular stick was used by the Windsor Warlocks, an Ontario Lacrosse Association team and Major Series Lacrosse champions in 1974.

To all the athletes at NAIG (male teams in 16U and 19U age categories, and - for the first time - female teams in the 19U age category) I wish you much success and thank you for continuing the legacy of this great sport. Your passion for this game forever has a place in the Six String Nation!

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