Chris Mattes honors lacrosse’s Native American origins, 4 The Future Foundation for My Cause My Cleats – Patriots.com

Chris Mattes made a career in football as the Patriots Director of Player Operations and Engagement, and while he loves the game, it wasn’t his first love. Not by a long shot.

He was only a kid when he picked up his first lacrosse stick. The pace of the game, the intensity, it drew him in. Mattes went on to play for Rutgers, the German National Team in the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships, and for Major League Lacrosse.

“From a very young age, I just kind of grew up to love it,” Mattes said.

Lacrosse is the oldest sport in North America and was created by Native Americans. Like many lacrosse players, Mattes learned a basic overview of the sport’s history throughout his years playing, but it wasn’t until he met Lyle Thompson and his family that he learned just what the game meant to Native Americans.

Thompson is from the Onondaga Nation, which is one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. As professional lacrosse expands with the foundation of the Premier Lacrosse League [PLL], Thompson is effectively the face of the game. He was the first overall NLL and MLL draft picks in 2015 and currently plays for the Cannons in the PLL. He is a two-time league MVP, a two-time champion and a two-time recipient of the Tewaaraton Award, given to the most outstanding American college lacrosse players.

When Thompson and Mattes crossed paths as teammates for the Florida Launch, Mattes saw firsthand that lacrosse is more than a sport for Native Americans. In the locker room and over dinners with Thompson and his brothers (Jeremy, Miles, and Jerome), Mattes listened to them talk about playing to honor their Creator, their history, and their culture.

“I would watch him play in college and was amazed at things he could do. Hearing what the game meant to them and how winning, losing wasn’t everything,” Mattes said. “To them, it was about respecting the game, playing for the love of the game, playing for what they refer to as the Creator, and embracing the sport. It was very impactful. Just hearing what it meant to them was beyond what any sport means to anyone else, like what soccer means to a soccer player or football means to a football player.”

Thompson and his brothers started 4 The Future Foundation to center the roots and values of lacrosse with diverse communities. It provides programming to “promote health and wellness, support education, embrace Native American history and traditions, give back and honor their ancestors and the earth through sharing the ‘Creator’s Game’ with Native and underserved youth.”

For My Cause My Cleats, Mattes is representing the 4 The Future Foundation to bring light to issues facing Native Americans and to support Thompson family’s efforts, something that became even more important to him over the last two years.

As the Patriots locker room talked more and more about racial and social issues throughout the 2020 season, Mattes and Thompson sparked up even more conversations about how Native American issues continue to be ignored.

This year, the remains of more than a thousand First Nations students were found at the site of “residential schools” in Canada. The number of children who died in U.S. “residential schools” is still unknown, but the number could be as high as 40,000, according to one researcher. These boarding schools have largely been considered a form of cultural genocide by Native Americans, with students being forcibly taken from their homes and “punished for speaking their Native languages, banned from conducting traditional or cultural practices … [taught] they should be ashamed for being Native American,” according to the Native American Rights Fund.

Additionally, a report was released earlier this year revealing that 710 Indigenous people were reported missing in Wyoming between 2011 and 2021. Despite those numbers, white homicide victims were more likely than Native people to received media coverage. Indigenous women and girls are killed at 10-times higher rates than all other ethnicities, making murder the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women, according to the CDC.

Both issues were at the top of Thompson’s mind when he asked to design Mattes’s sneakers.

Thompson designed the shoes “to remember and honor missing, and murdered Indigenous women and girlsandNative children, who were stolen from their parents, put into residential schools, and brought up in the most violent circumstances with the intent to erase their culture, language, and connection to their people,” he said in a statement. “The atrocities are staggering; the coverups continue today. The silence is deafening, and generational, trauma, and fear remain.”

As a staff member, Mattes hasn’t previously participated in My Cause My Cleats, but after seeing Director of Football/Head Coach Administration Berj Najarian use the initiative to shine a light on the plight of Armenians, Mattes was inspired by its reach. He hopes people see his sneakers, stop, educate themselves, and look into what the Thompson family is doing.

“For them they want everyone to be educated on the history and for other native Americans to be proud of their culture,” Mattes said. “For me, my goal is to not only raise money but also to bring awareness to their foundation, educate others, and raise any money I can for them.”

Though lacrosse is rooted in Native American culture and tradition, as it stands, it is a predominantly white sport. According to the NCAA, less than one percent of all college lacrosse players in the U.S. were Native Americans or Alaska Natives.

Not for nothing, Mattes pointed out, lacrosse is an expensive sport. Purchasing the equipment can be a barrier to entry for a lot of kids and their families. By representing 4 The Future Foundation, Mattes hopes they can expand their reach and continue to grow the game among Native youth.

“It was the least I could do to give back to a sport that’s given so much in my life,” Mattes said.

You can see Mattes’s sneakers, as well as the other participating Patriots’ cleats, in the gallery below.

Jake Bailey - Fur The Brand

1 / 87

Jake Bailey – Fur The Brand

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jake Bailey - Fur The Brand

2 / 87

Jake Bailey – Fur The Brand

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jake Bailey - Fur The Brand

3 / 87

Jake Bailey – Fur The Brand

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jake Bailey - Fur The Brand

4 / 87

Jake Bailey – Fur The Brand

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Christian Barmore - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

5 / 87

Christian Barmore – National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Christian Barmore - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

6 / 87

Christian Barmore – National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Christian Barmore - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

7 / 87

Christian Barmore – National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

De'Vante Bausby - Aim4Peace

8 / 87

De’Vante Bausby – Aim4Peace

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

De'Vante Bausby - Aim4Peace

9 / 87

De’Vante Bausby – Aim4Peace

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

De'Vante Bausby - Aim4Peace

10 / 87

De’Vante Bausby – Aim4Peace

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Bill Belichick - Bill Belichick Foundation

11 / 87

Bill Belichick – Bill Belichick Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Bill Belichick - Bill Belichick Foundation

12 / 87

Bill Belichick – Bill Belichick Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Bill Belichick - Bill Belichick Foundation

13 / 87

Bill Belichick – Bill Belichick Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Bill Belichick - Bill Belichick Foundation

14 / 87

Bill Belichick – Bill Belichick Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Bill Belichick - Bill Belichick Foundation

15 / 87

Bill Belichick – Bill Belichick Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Steve Belichick - One Love Foundation

16 / 87

Steve Belichick – One Love Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Steve Belichick - One Love Foundation

17 / 87

Steve Belichick – One Love Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Steve Belichick - One Love Foundation

18 / 87

Steve Belichick – One Love Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Kendrick Bourne - Team Impact

19 / 87

Kendrick Bourne – Team Impact

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Kendrick Bourne - Team Impact

20 / 87

Kendrick Bourne – Team Impact

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Kendrick Bourne - Team Impact

21 / 87

Kendrick Bourne – Team Impact

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Trent Brown - TB77 Cares

22 / 87

Trent Brown – TB77 Cares

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Trent Brown - TB77 Cares

23 / 87

Trent Brown – TB77 Cares

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

DeMarcus Covington - Inner City Weight Lifting

24 / 87

DeMarcus Covington – Inner City Weight Lifting

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

DeMarcus Covington - Inner City Weight Lifting

25 / 87

DeMarcus Covington – Inner City Weight Lifting

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Carl Davis - Trenchwork Foundation, Military Appreciation/Support

26 / 87

Carl Davis – Trenchwork Foundation, Military Appreciation/Support

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Carl Davis - Trenchwork Foundation, Military Appreciation/Support

27 / 87

Carl Davis – Trenchwork Foundation, Military Appreciation/Support

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Carl Davis - Trenchwork Foundation, Military Appreciation/Support

28 / 87

Carl Davis – Trenchwork Foundation, Military Appreciation/Support

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Cody Davis - Axe ALS

29 / 87

Cody Davis – Axe ALS

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Cody Davis - Axe ALS

30 / 87

Cody Davis – Axe ALS

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Cody Davis - Axe ALS

31 / 87

Cody Davis – Axe ALS

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

James Ferentz - University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital

32 / 87

James Ferentz – University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

James Ferentz - University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital

33 / 87

James Ferentz – University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

James Ferentz - University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital

34 / 87

James Ferentz – University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Nick Folk - Children's Tumor Foundation

35 / 87

Nick Folk – Children’s Tumor Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Nick Folk - Children's Tumor Foundation

36 / 87

Nick Folk – Children’s Tumor Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Nick Folk - Children's Tumor Foundation

37 / 87

Nick Folk – Children’s Tumor Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Hunter Henry - International Justice Mission

38 / 87

Hunter Henry – International Justice Mission

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Hunter Henry - International Justice Mission

39 / 87

Hunter Henry – International Justice Mission

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Hunter Henry - International Justice Mission

40 / 87

Hunter Henry – International Justice Mission

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

J.C. Jackson - Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

41 / 87

J.C. Jackson – Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

J.C. Jackson - Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

42 / 87

J.C. Jackson – Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

J.C. Jackson - Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

43 / 87

J.C. Jackson – Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

J.C. Jackson - Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

44 / 87

J.C. Jackson – Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

J.C. Jackson - Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

45 / 87

J.C. Jackson – Embrace With Grace + Boys and Girls Club

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jakob Johnson - Kristin's Fund

46 / 87

Jakob Johnson – Kristin’s Fund

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jakob Johnson - Kristin's Fund

47 / 87

Jakob Johnson – Kristin’s Fund

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jakob Johnson - Kristin's Fund

48 / 87

Jakob Johnson – Kristin’s Fund

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jonathan Jones - Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

49 / 87

Jonathan Jones – Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jonathan Jones - Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

50 / 87

Jonathan Jones – Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jonathan Jones - Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

51 / 87

Jonathan Jones – Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jonathan Jones - Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

52 / 87

Jonathan Jones – Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Jonathan Jones - Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

53 / 87

Jonathan Jones – Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Mac Jones - Boston Children's Hospital

54 / 87

Mac Jones – Boston Children’s Hospital

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Mac Jones - Boston Children's Hospital

55 / 87

Mac Jones – Boston Children’s Hospital

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Mac Jones - Boston Children's Hospital

56 / 87

Mac Jones – Boston Children’s Hospital

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Mac Jones - Boston Children's Hospital

57 / 87

Mac Jones – Boston Children’s Hospital

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Ted Karras - The Village of Merici, Inc.

58 / 87

Ted Karras – The Village of Merici, Inc.

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Ted Karras - The Village of Merici, Inc.

59 / 87

Ted Karras – The Village of Merici, Inc.

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Ted Karras - The Village of Merici, Inc.

60 / 87

Ted Karras – The Village of Merici, Inc.

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Chris Mattes - 4 The Future Foundation

61 / 87

Chris Mattes – 4 The Future Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Chris Mattes - 4 The Future Foundation

62 / 87

Chris Mattes – 4 The Future Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Devin McCourty - Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

63 / 87

Devin McCourty – Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Devin McCourty - Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

64 / 87

Devin McCourty – Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Devin McCourty - Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

65 / 87

Devin McCourty – Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Devin McCourty - Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

66 / 87

Devin McCourty – Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Devin McCourty - Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

67 / 87

Devin McCourty – Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Devin McCourty - Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

68 / 87

Devin McCourty – Sickle Cell, Boston Medical Center

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Ronnie Perkins - American Cancer Society

69 / 87

Ronnie Perkins – American Cancer Society

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Ronnie Perkins - American Cancer Society

70 / 87

Ronnie Perkins – American Cancer Society

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Ronnie Perkins - American Cancer Society

71 / 87

Ronnie Perkins – American Cancer Society

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Ronnie Perkins - American Cancer Society

72 / 87

Ronnie Perkins – American Cancer Society

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Matthew Slater - Compassion International

73 / 87

Matthew Slater – Compassion International

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Matthew Slater - Compassion International

74 / 87

Matthew Slater – Compassion International

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Matthew Slater - Compassion International

75 / 87

Matthew Slater – Compassion International

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Matthew Slater - Compassion International

76 / 87

Matthew Slater – Compassion International

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Josh Uche - Uche Org.

77 / 87

Josh Uche – Uche Org.

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Josh Uche - Uche Org.

78 / 87

Josh Uche – Uche Org.

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Josh Uche - Uche Org.

79 / 87

Josh Uche – Uche Org.

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Josh Uche - Uche Org.

80 / 87

Josh Uche – Uche Org.

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Kyle Van Noy - Van Noy Valor Foundation

81 / 87

Kyle Van Noy – Van Noy Valor Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Kyle Van Noy - Van Noy Valor Foundation

82 / 87

Kyle Van Noy – Van Noy Valor Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Kyle Van Noy - Van Noy Valor Foundation

83 / 87

Kyle Van Noy – Van Noy Valor Foundation

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Isaiah Wynn - Alzheimer's Association

84 / 87

Isaiah Wynn – Alzheimer’s Association

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Isaiah Wynn - Alzheimer's Association

85 / 87

Isaiah Wynn – Alzheimer’s Association

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Isaiah Wynn - Alzheimer's Association

86 / 87

Isaiah Wynn – Alzheimer’s Association

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots

Isaiah Wynn - Alzheimer's Association

87 / 87

Isaiah Wynn – Alzheimer’s Association

Eric J. Adler/New England Patriots