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Student Spotlight: ‘Keepers of the Game’ Star Talks College and Inspiring Youth

Tsieboo Herne, who appeared in lacrosse documentary "Keepers of the Game," now plays lacrosse at SUNY Canton. She recently spoke with ICTMN.
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Lacrosse documentary “Keepers of the Game” follows a group of Mohawk high school female athletes as they struggle to start a lacrosse team off their Akwesasne reservation at a public school.

Tsieboo Herne, one of the athletes in the documentary, has gone on to play lacrosse at SUNY Canton since the film’s release. She’s studying health fitness, nutrition, and diversity communications, and is expected to graduate in 2020. She recently spoke with Indian Country Today Media Network about college and what it was like to be in such an emotional film.

How have you adjusted to being away from Akwesasne?

I really did struggle being away from home and adjusting to a new crowd of people, but I feel that I hung onto everything my mother taught me as well as the medicines [and] the ceremonies, and even giving thanks everyday really helped me. Calling my nieces and nephews, and being able to talk to them was very helpful in my struggle.

In the film you said you never thought about college, now that you are there, what do you want to do after you graduate?

I’d have to say there is so much that I want to do for my community. My biggest concern is to give kids at a younger age the opportunities that I never got, especially for school and lacrosse.

Do you want to encourage other Akwesasne youth to hope for college now?

I am trying so hard to encourage younger kids to hope for college because I want them to know that I believe in them even if nobody else does.

What’s your favorite thing about college?

I think my favorite thing is that I’m learning and growing so much as an individual. It’s amazing! And all the new people I encounter are really awesome.

Is there anything you don’t like about college?

Schooling systems in general I dislike because they are all about professionalism instead of individual uniqueness. [Not to mention] the lack of aboriginal Haudenosaunee acknowledgement and how some are unaware we still exist.

What was the hardest part about making the movie?

I’d say the hardest part would have been expressing who I am and holding nothing back.

Is it odd to see yourself on a big screen?

It’s definitely different seeing myself in the movie, but it wasn’t hard to get used to.

What advice would you give to other struggling Native students?

My advice would be to never forget who you are and where you come from. If you can’t do that, you should make the effort to learn more about where you come from and who you are, and never be afraid to speak up when it comes from the heart.

Do you see “Keepers of the Game” making an impact?

I believe this movie will have a major impact if it has not already. It’s the beginning of a dialog that my community needs to start having.