Mohawk, Wolf Clan
Gaylord Powless was a Mohawk lacrosse player from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada where he was the eldest of 14 children born to Ross and Wilma Powless.
Powless received his first lacrosse stick at age two and by age 17, he won the Tom Longboat Award as the best Indigenous athlete in Canada. In 1964, Gaylord was recruited by the Oshawa Green Gaels junior lacrosse team, by coach Jim Bishop to which he led to four consecutive Minto Cups from 1964 to 1967 and was chosen as the most valuable player in the series in 1964 and 1967.
Powless turned professional in 1968 and, in 1969, played for the Rochester Chiefs, winning the Can-Am Lacrosse League title. He went on to a successful career in professional and senior amateur lacrosse with teams in Detroit, Syracuse, New York, Montreal, Brantford, Port Coquitlam, and Brampton as well as with the Six Nations team. Powless was also a star player for the Detroit Olympics of the National Lacrosse Association. He scored 63 goals in the 1968 season, twice as many as his nearest competition. He knew where everyone was at all times on the field of play, was an unselfish player, and an outstanding playmaker.
Powless's career was cut short by injuries and in 1977, he retired at the age of 30. He had to withstand tremendous racism from coaches, players, fans, and sports writers. His reaction was to recognize that he was a target for bullying and abuse and to overcome it by being the best player, and the highest scoring athlete he could be.
Sadly, Powless lost his battle with cancer on July 28, 2001, but his influence as a role model and inspiration to generations of Indigenous youth carries on. He left behind his wife Patti, daughters Michelle and Gaylene, and son Christopher (deceased 2015) who he coached in lacrosse to his Jr. career. His grandchildren Taylor, David, Kahner, Rachel and Kali continue his legacy through their love of sports, they would have been his greatest accomplishment.