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When the 2018 Dakota Premier Lacrosse League season begins Sunday (April 6), a trio of Native American teams will be missing from the schedule.

The three clubs - 7 Flames, Susbeca, and Lightning Stick Society - allege they were kicked out of the DPLL just a few weeks ago, after lodging complaints with the league about being subjected to ongoing racial abuse from opponents over the past two seasons.

In a Deadspin article, team officials claim league commissioner Corey Mitchell, who is also the coach of the Sioux Falls Spark, dumped them because he was tired of the clubs 'playing the race card'.

Susbeca is made up of players from the Sisseton area. Lightning Stick Society is part of the Oceti Sakowin Sports Council in Eagle Butte. A majority of the 7 Flames' players are from the Rosebud Reservation.

The Deadspin article includes a formal letter Mitchell sent to U.S. Lacrosse CEO Steve Stenersen, citing seven reasons for the expulsion of the teams:

  • Not having U.S. Lacrosse certified coaches (which, like other sports, requires a clinic, online modules, and background checks, as administered through the national governing body, U.S. Lacrosse)
  • Coaches neither acknowledging nor accepting the Code of Conduct
  • Illegal players (non-rostered or playing on multiple teams or age groups)
  • Not showing up to games, leaving tournaments early, and giving no advanced notice
  • Rosters which were incomplete or not submitted for required validation
  • Coaches and players not being registered members with US Lacrosse
  • Unwarranted hostility toward officials, opponents, and league administrators

Officials from the three expelled teams acknowledge they have been in violation of some of those items, but point out that other teams still in the league have had violations as well.

As for the timing of the expulsions, a former DPLL official, Michael Butler, told Deadspin:

'My take on that is (Mitchell) wanted to give them as little time as possible to fight this. He did everything in his power to make sure these teams would not be able to come back this year. Which is totally unprofessional and frankly, evil.'

Mitchell did not respond to Deadspin's request for a comment.

The DPLL is currently made up of 28 teams from 11-year-olds to high school age players. The league has teams in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, the Black Hills, Brookings, Oglala, Watertown, Bismarck, Grand Cities, and Red River.

According to Wikipedia,  the origins of lacrosse date back to Native American tribes as far back as the 1100's.


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