Allan Downey

PhD Candidate (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Nak’azdli First Nation

Watch a short interview from Wilfrid Laurier University’s Inspiring Lives on Allan’s lacrosse research


PhD Candidate, History Wilfrid Laurier University 2008-Present

  • Thesis: “The Creator’s Game: A History of Lacrosse Among First Nations”
  • Supervisor: Dr. Susan Neylan (History, Wilfrid Laurier University)
  • Comprehensive Fields: Canadian History (Major Concentration), Global Indigenous History (Minor Concentration), American History Since 1877 (Minor Concentration)

M.A., History Wilfrid Laurier University 2007-2008

  • Tri-University Graduate Program in History at Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario)
  • Major Research Project: “The Creator’s Game: A History of Six Nations Lacrosse, 1840s-1990s”

B.A., History Mercyhurst College 2003-2007

  • Mercyhurst College (Erie, Pennsylvania)

Current Research Interests

My areas of interest include Native/Newcomer relations, Aboriginal sport history, comparative global Indigenous history, as well as American/Canadian social history. My Ph.D. thesis, “The Creator’s Game,” focuses on the history of lacrosse in Aboriginal communities from 1867-1990 to better understand Native-Newcomer relations. Building on my M.A. research centred on the history of the sport in a single Aboriginal community (Six Nations of the Grand River), my doctoral project deepens and broadens the scope of my approach to include other First Nations communities across Canada. Using lacrosse as a lens to view the concept and construction of race, I intend to identify how the construction, maintenance, and persistence of imposed and self-imposed concepts of national and cultural identities (both as First Nations peoples and as lacrosse players) fundamentally informed Aboriginal experiences within the sport.

Conference Presentations

  • American Society for Ethnohistory, Missouri State University, 7-10 November. Presented “Playing Nationalism: Tla’amin Identity and Sport in the 20th century”
  • Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, 28-30 May. Presented “Gendering Nationality: Haudenosaunee Nation Building, Sport, and the Lines of Gender”
  • Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University, 30-31 May and 1 June 2011. Presented “‘Our people have survived and so has our game’: Squamish Lacrosse and the Rise of Native Nationalism in the mid-20th Century”
  • 38th Annual North American Society for Sport History Conference, Coronado Springs Resort & Convention Center, 28-31 May 2010. Presented “The Last Vestiges of Savage Play: Six Nations Iroquois Lacrosse in the Late 19th Century”
  • Sport and Society International Conference, University of British Columbia, 8-10 March 2010. Presented “‘It’s our game, and now we have the voice to tell the world’: The Haudenosaunee’s Re-appropriation of Lacrosse, 1970-1990”
  • Native American & Indigenous Studies Association, University of Minnesota, 21-23 May 2009. Presented “Native Athleticism and Amusement: Six Nations Lacrosse on Tour, 1867-1904”

Professional Activities:

Lacrosse for Development
Right to Play and Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services

  • Served as a keynote speaker, Aboriginal role model, and facilitator for the Right to Play and Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services’ Youth Lacrosse for Development Initiative. The one-week Lacrosse for Development program is part of the ministry’s efforts to find innovative ways to address the overrepresentation of aboriginal youth in Ontario’s justice system and took place at the Justice Ronald Lester Youth Centre in Thunder Bay, ON September 10th-14th

Grant Writer and Project Developer
Nak’azdli First Nation

  • Served as the Nak’azdli First Nation’s contract Grant Writer and Project Developer

Waterloo Region Museum

  • Served as a consultant on the First Nations Advisory Board for the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener, Ontario

Six Nations Polytechnic

  • Keynote speaker for the launch of a new publication Lacrosse: The Ancient Game at Six Nations Polytechnic- a centre of excellence for indigenous community based learning- in Six Nations, Ontario

Co-Founder and President
Wilfrid Laurier University Aboriginal Students’ Association

  • Co-founder and elected President of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Aboriginal Students’ Association

Consultant and Contributor
Six Nations Roadmap Committee

  • Served as a consultant and a contributor for the Six Nations Roadmap Committee. The committee created an academic roadmap and information packet to promote post-secondary education to Native youth