CELEBRATING CULTURE & CHAMPIONSHIP IN SIX NATIONSMay 24, 2013
By Travis Larner -- The celebration of Bread and Cheese Day on the Six Nations Reserve is an annual tradition with roots dating back to the War of 1812, when Queen Victoria awarded the people of Six Nations with blankets for their efforts in the war. After blankets became too expensive the Queen gave her native allies bread and cheese to show her gratitude.
Over the past two years, Bread and Cheese Day has also become a time for the Rochester Knighthawks to share their back-to-back World Championships with the Six Nations community, the place team Owner and General Manager Curt Styres calls home.
The Champion’s Cup, a handful of Knighthawks and a motorcade of nearly a dozen vehicles adorned with purple and teal decorations were featured in the 116th Annual Bread and Cheese Day Parade. The parade concluded at the Gaylord Powless Arena, where throngs of eager spectators, including the Dawson brothers, lined up to receive their bread and cheese.
“It was great to learn a little bit about the history here,” said Dan Dawson, who was attending the festival with his brother Paul for the first time. “Curt and his family have been awesome hosts. It’s great to get back together with the guys and truly extend the celebration for a tough season of hard work.”
Following the parade, the Dawsons, Mike Accursi, Jamie Batson, Ian Llord, Joe Walters and Matt Vinc joined Six Nations natives Cody Jamieson, Craig Point, Johnny Powless and Sid Smith at Styres’ home for an afternoon barbeque. The 2011 National Lacrosse League Executive and GM of the Year treated his players to a feast to celebrate successfully defending their NLL title.
“It’s always very fortunate when you get to spend some time with your close friends and your family,” Styres said. “Everyone’s smiling when they get here and smiling when they leave. That’s a good day.”
“I don’t think I’ve missed a (Bread and Cheese Day) since 1959,” he added. “I feel very fortunate and honored to be able to bring the Champion’s Cup to Bread and Cheese Day. I’m honored to be part of a team that’s able to do that.”
Batson was attending the celebration for his second time, having also partaken in the parade last year.
“I love bread and I love cheese,” said Batson with a laugh. “We do a lot of eating together, that’s for sure. It’s always nice, especially after the win. It’s good to see everybody again before the summer starts.”
Jamieson, Point, Powless and Smith have annually celebrated Bread and Cheese Day with their friends and families in Six Nations since they were children and enjoyed sharing the tradition with their teammates.
“We take a lot of pride here in Six Nations in what goes on and what we do,” said Jamieson, who became just the second player in NLL history to win consecutive Championship MVP Awards. “To share a little bit of what we do with the team, it’s the same thing they do for us when we travel to their homes. It feels great having them here.”
Not only was Smith able to share the tradition of his community with his teammates, but he also passed it down to the newest member of his family.
“Everyone goes since you’re a baby and I brought my one-year-old daughter tonight for her first one,” Smith said. “It’s awesome to bring those guys in to see a little piece of Six Nations’ history and some of our events that we have here. It’s interesting listening to some of their thoughts on it. It was fun.”
Players and team personnel were not the only members of the Knighthawks’ extended family who made the trip to Six Nations. Season ticket holders Jason Childers and Shawn Milliron were also welcomed to celebrate the 2013 Champion’s Cup victory at Bread and Cheese Day. In addition, Childers’ Knighthawks-themed SUV was driven in the parade.
“I made the trip from Rochester to join in the celebration and learn more about the culture,” Milliron said. “I can’t thank (Styres) enough. He’s a down-to-earth guy and very approachable. It’s great that he opens his doors to everybody, players and fans, to celebrate a great season.”
The championship celebration concluded at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena at the Six Nations Arrows’ home-opener. Powless, in his first game of the summer box season, scored a trio of shorthanded goals to help the Junior “A” Arrows roll over the Brampton Excelsiors 12-5.
The origins of lacrosse, referred to as the “Creator’s Game”, are traced back to the Native Americans of upstate New York and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Bread and Cheese Day was another opportunity for the Knighthawks to learn more about the history of the people who originally played the game they love, with the earliest recorded history of the lacrosse in North America dating back to the 17th century.
“It’s very important to the players,” Dawson said. “They understand the history of the game and where it comes from. The Six Nations people have always been huge supporters of the Rochester Knighthawks. You talk about (Styres) being first class all season; his doors are always open to his players and their extended family.”