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"> Jade Haumann: Passion over Perception | USA Lacrosse Magazine

Jade Haumann graduated from Keuka College after playing two seasons and starting 28 games with the Wolves.

Jade Haumann: Passion over Perception

This article, as told to Matt DaSilva, appears in the April edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, which includes a special 10-page section featuring faces and voices of the Native American lacrosse community. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

I grew up in Onondaga, but I’m of the Seneca Nation. I am wolf clan. My mother’s family is from the Allegheny territory, but her father’s side is from Onondaga, so that’s how I ended up here.

Being a Native American woman, especially a Haudenosaunee woman, we’re technically not supposed to play lacrosse. It’s supposed to be a men’s game.  It was difficult to commit myself to that knowing what the outcome would be, what other people would think and say. But my desire and passion for the game overcame that. I decided to commit to my passion for the sport rather than worry about other people’s opinions.

I started playing lacrosse when I was in fourth grade. Only my family knew. We didn’t speak publicly about it with anyone else.

When I got into the high school level of play, it was more out there. Then when I won the Tewaaraton scholarship, it was really out there. I was a little hesitant to apply. I didn’t think I’d win, anyway. I was really surprised at the reaction from all of the people on Onondaga. They were really supportive. They would come up and congratulate me, men and women. That really raised my confidence level. I felt better playing and entering the college level.

It’s complicated to explain. For the men’s game, it’s solely the Creator’s Game. It’s meant to play for the Creator and please him. To this day, I don’t feel comfortable touching any men’s stick, even my little nephew’s. Being in college, playing around with the guys’ team, my teammates would trade sticks with them. I never felt comfortable with that. It took me a while to feel comfortable enough just playing catch. For me personally, it’s better to keep a boundary between the men’s game and the sport I play.

"Indigenous people, there’s an invisible force that unites us. They have their own challenges, but they know the same kind of experiences you’ve endured. We’re all in the struggle together. Being united makes us stronger."

My game is a little different. It does empower me. Maybe not the same as it does the men, but I feel stronger when I play. I feel like I have a purpose. When I step on that turf or grass, my sole purpose is to that game. That’s humbling and grounding to me.

My role model, Cassandra “Bean” Minnerd, won the Tewaaraton scholarship two years before me. I remember one time, we were scrimmaging at the local indoor facility, and Bean was playing. I was on the bench watching. She’s also a defensive player. I took notes on how she played. She was so low. It seemed impossible how she was defending and still moving so fast

I knew her from the community, as well. It was kind of awkward for me at first seeing her there. This was another Native playing. This was, like, a hush-hush thing. I remember walking up to her and we kind of acknowledged each other, but thinking, “We shouldn’t talk about this.”

Now that I’m older, I understand I shouldn’t have to feel that way. I should feel proud about playing, what I have done and where it has brought me.

When the whole thing happened with Lyle, Bean posted about it. We ended up talking about it for a couple of hours—what it means and how our society is still lacking in respect for the game and respect for our people.

It’s a very complicated time. For me personally, it means a lot of fear. I hate that it can do that to me, that it can make me feel so small and scared. That’s the sad truth. Our current country is making Native and other minority groups feel so insignificant and powerless.

I remember when I found out that Trump got elected, I was in my dorm room, freshman year of college. This was also around the time when the Dakota Pipeline movement was very strong. I remember crying, feeling so uncertain, knowing that someone with so much power doesn’t relate to minority groups well. What happens if he gets mad or wants to change the reservations? Yeah, we have treaties. But so many treaties have been broken. I feel scared for my family who are on the reservations and what that would mean for them.

Keuka is a very small private school on Keuka Lake. It’s a beautiful campus. But being a small campus, it does have its limitations. There was diversity, but not that much for Native Americans. It was difficult for people to understand and relate, because I have different values and ethics than they do. It distanced me more. It brought more homesickness for me. But it was also a good experience to learn outside of what I grew up in.

I just graduated in December. I want to be a wildlife conservationist. My heritage definitely did play a role in my love for science in general, but especially conservation work. My values made me want to dedicate my life to protecting the animals, as well as the environment.


Haumann is hoping to go into the STEM field in hopes she can protect the environment.

Being a woman in the STEM field, that’s already hard enough. But then being a Native American woman in the STEM field, that’s challenging. Luckily, I got involved with AISES, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. I got to go to the national conference. I have never felt so strong in my entire life. There were other Native people that had the same passion and drive, not only from their heritage but from their love of science. It was very empowering.

Last summer, I was one of 10 students selected to complete a research experience through an undergraduate program at Humboldt State University in California. This program was really unique in that it was really focused on Native people and traditional ecological knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation — be it about farming, harvesting, where to find the best berries, what plants grow best together, what’s a good time to harvest these fish and what’s a good time to let them do their own thing so that the population can thrive and so we can ultimately survive.

I was so involved with western science that I didn’t know TEK even existed at this level. The other students and mentors were so inspiring, doing incredible work in higher education to evolve TEK into the modern field. It’s going to make a big change.

Indigenous people, there’s an invisible force that unites us. They have their own challenges, but they know the same kind of experiences you’ve endured. We’re all in the struggle together. Being united makes us stronger.

The lacrosse community and the ties that it has to our heritage forms a community in itself. Whether you’re Native or not, we’re all in the same game. You become one.

For me, the Tewaaraton ceremony was life-changing. Having some unknown group of people pay for me and my family to be in Washington, D.C., it’s inspiring to know that lacrosse brought do many people together, in a professional setting too. We were very well-respected. It showed me it is possible to have that kind of support from non-Natives. It gave me confidence.

There is hope.