The 2017 NLL World Champion Georgia Swarm are proud to announce that Lyle and Miles Thompson will be honored by the state of New York in the People of New York exhibit in the State Capitol building in Albany, N.Y. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the opening of the exhibit this morning. In addition, visitors are able to share their own stories in person and online at the exhibition website.
Located in the East Gallery of the New York State Capitol’s second floor, the exhibit has six sections showcasing the diversity of the people of New York and explores specific themes past and present which contributed to shaping New York and the state’s population. It will be on display for a year and illustrate how New York’s diverse population began, spread and continues to form the New York identity.
The Thompsons are featured in The First Peoples portion of the exhibit. A life-size cutout of the brothers in their Georgia Swarm uniforms accompanies a bio detailing the duos impact to the state of New York, including their time at University of Albany.
“While the federal government continues to fan the flames of division, New York recognizes that our differences are our greatest strength,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “This exhibit honors the enormous contributions of leaders from diverse backgrounds who made an indelible mark on their communities and the entire state, and I encourage New Yorkers and visitors alike to celebrate this rich history by visiting this exhibit.”
“Lyle and Miles are recognized as two of the best lacrosse players in the history of the game,” Swarm Owner and General Manager John Arlotta said. “They have won many prestigious awards and championships, and they’ve had a significant impact on how the game is played. However, they have had an equally significant impact off the field where they have educated thousands of people, both old and young, on Native American culture and values. Their positive impact on society truly extends well beyond the sport of lacrosse.”
Lyle and Miles were both born in Onondaga Nation, near Syracuse, N.Y. The brothers are two of the most recognizable and celebrated lacrosse players in the world. Along with their older brothers Jeremy and Jerome, they make up the Thompson Brothers and serve as role models for Native youth all across North America.
At University at Albany, Lyle became the first male recipient of the Tewaaraton Award in consecutive seasons and set a new NCAA Division I record for career points (400) and assists (225). As a senior at Albany, Miles was the co-recipient of the Tewaaraton Award with his brother Lyle and set a NCAA Division I record for most single season goals (82).
“I think it’s something special to represent not only myself and my family, but my community and really to represent [University of] Albany, a program that’s really done a lot for me,” Lyle said. To look back on what it would mean to be in this exhibit, I think it represents a lot for Native people. It’s a proud moment for me.”
The two brothers were both drafted by the Swarm, Miles as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NLL Draft and Lyle as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NLL Draft. In 2017, the tandem was instrumental in the Swarm winning their first-ever world championship in franchise history.
Lyle made a key pass to Miles in overtime of Game 2 of the NLL Finals which allowed Miles to score the game-winning goal and defeat the two-time defending world champion Saskatchewan Rush. Lyle was named the 2017 NLL Finals MVP following the game’s conclusion. He also became the first NLL MVP for the Swarm in franchise history after his record-setting 116-point season.
The First Peoples
Today there are eight federally recognized Native American tribes and one state recognized tribe within the boundaries of New York, all contributors to the cultural diversity of the state. A highlight in this section is the story of Mohawk Iron Workers with the photography of David Noble. Many of New York’s most famous structures were built in part by Native American ironworkers, including the Empire State Building, United Nations building and the George Washington Bridge.
Land of Opportunity
People from all over the world came to New York State seeking freedom, wealth and opportunity. Colonial New York emerged as a diverse community where various cultures combined and sometimes clashed. This section includes the story of Juan Rodriguez, believed to be the first non-native settler of New York City in 1613. He was born on the island of Hispaniola, now known as the Dominican Republic.
The Fight for Freedom
New York history is replete with people who have fought for individual freedoms- including abolition of slavery, voting rights, civil rights and other actions to fight oppression and discrimination. The exhibit includes a 1968 sculpture of abolitionist Sojourner Truth from artist Inge Hardison’s series, “Negro Giants in History,” and the story of Solomon Northup – a free man who was living in Saratoga Springs before he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. The exhibit features an original 1853 edition of his book, Twelve Years a Slave.
The Fight for Freedom Continues
The fight for freedom is ongoing. Through the 20th century to present day, New Yorkers have united together to advance issues such as civil rights, wages, sexual orientation and religious freedom. Artifacts in this section include a hat from the Congress of Racial Equality supporting the Freedom Rides, circa 1960 and a 2011 Marriage Equality Act Ribbon. The section also features original portraits of individuals who came to New York seeking freedom, part of a larger project entitled Seeking Asylum, by award-winning photographer, Dona Ann McAdams, and Dr. Joanne Ahola, psychiatrist and medical director of the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights.
Gateway to Our Nation
With Ellis Island and the Port of New York, the state became a national gateway for immigrants. Over the duration of 62 years, more than 12 million passed through this point of entry. This section includes original artifacts and photos from Sol Messinger – a New Yorker whose family tried to flee Nazi Germany in 1939 aboard the St. Louis – a ship with more than 900 Jewish refugees that was denied entry to the US and forced to return to Europe. Dr. Messinger’s family eventually escaped from a prison camp and settled in Buffalo. Also included is an original sculpture by Luigi Del Bianco, an Italian immigrant who raised his family in Port Chester. Bianco was hired in 1933 as the chief stone carver on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
New York Leads the Way
New York has a history of legislating inclusion. Highlights include several items surrounding New York’s passage of the 1945 Ives Quinn Anti-Discrimination bill, which opened the door for the Brooklyn Dodgers to sign Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
Cities in New York State such as Utica and Buffalo have a rich history welcoming and assisting refugees. Artifacts include a traditional Polish outfit worn to celebrate Dyngus Day in Buffalo.