Onondaga Nation brothers star in PBS documentary

On Tuesday night at 8pm, PBS stations aired a documentary called "The Medicine Ball," chronicling Onondaga Nation brothers Jeremy and Hiana Thompson's seven-year pursuit to play lacrosse for Syracuse University.

Lacrosse is a large part of Haudenosaunee culture, and is known for healing and bonding communities. "Our boys, when they're born, they're given a wooden stick," said Jerome Thompson, Jeremy and Hiana's father. "It's a small wooden stick. And that's their medicine. It gives them strength."

Many Native Americans never fulfill their collegiate or professional lacrosse dreams, hindered by drugs or poverty, making Jeremy and Hiana's story more compelling to its filmmakers. Their journey was documented by Syracuse University alumni Lukas Korver and Jason Halpin.

"Just to walk a day with them is, I think, extremely impressive," said Halpin. "But to see them over a seven-year period is amazing. I don't think anything like this has ever been shown, and I think that's why there's so much excitement."

Jeremy and Hiana did not enroll in an English-speaking school until the fifth grade, making it difficult for them to catch up to their peers.

"They had to go to community college before they could go to D-1 because of their learning disability," said their mom, Deloris Thompson. "They had to do special classes."

The brothers spent two years playing lacrosse at Onondaga Community College. Jeremy then went on to play lacrosse for two years at Syracuse University. He currently plays year-round professional lacrosse, while Hiana plays for a semi-professional team.

Jerome Thompson believes their success sets a positive example and demonstrates that hard work pays off.

"Not everybody's willing to do that - go that extra mile - you know, do the hard work," Thompson explained. "But it can be done. And now they can see it. Not just in a movie. This is real life."

The PBS documentary "The Medicine Game" will re-air on WCNY World (Channel 24.3) at 8pm on Saturday.

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