Onondaga and Irish descendant, former professional lacrosse player Bill O’Brien wrestles with his mixed identity while training underwater.
These are Bill’s words and this is his story:
“The Irish side of me is descendant from the great Brian Boru, the 10th King of Ireland, who was a warring king imposing his will on those who didn’t recognize his high kingship. On the Onondaga (Iroquois) side, my Father is from the Snipe Clan. The snipe is a clever, diligent bird who thrives through hard work and awareness. Onondaga’s are the firekeepers of the Iroquois, organizing grand councils, keeping the wampum and protecting the ‘government’ of the Iroquois nation.
Growing up I learned the ways of the longhouse, and I learned the ways of the Catholic church. At a young age, I struggled with identity issues and I questioned if I was Onondaga enough or if I could represent my Irish culture properly. I wondered if I should just be what other people expected me to be.
But I have come to realize that I determine the man I will be. No one else. Not my ancestors, not my friends, not my family, not my culture, not my blood, not my genes, not the bullies or the people who praised me – The man I will become is a culmination of my decisions and my actions. I’m proud of both sides that make me who I am, regardless of who people think I should be. I am Onondaga and Irish. I am American and I am a warrior.”
***Lacrosse was created by the Native Americans. In many tribes, it was referred to as ‘Little Brother of War’ and was a way to train young men for battle, settle disputes between tribes, as well as a form of collective prayer…
Director: Roman & Cameron Lao-Gosney (Chimera)
Producer: Danny Ryan
DP: Roman Lao-Gosney
Editor: Cameron Lao-Gosney
Colorist: Jenny Montgomery (Company 3)
Sound Mixer: Shao-Ting Chang
VFX: Sam Wolfson
Gaffer: John Ward
Production Asst: Lindsey Ryan
Roger Goula – “Pale Blue Dot”
Represented By Manners McDade Music Publishing
Air Sea Land Productions