The N7 Spirit of Protection Collection, which celebrates Native American Heritage Month, features men’s and women’s apparel adorned with a graphic black-and-white hawk-feather print and turquoise accents. Each piece, from baselayer up through outerwear, is designed to keep athletes shielded from winter’s challenges. The collection also features exclusive footwear: an Air Jordan 31, Nike Pegasus 89 and Air Force 1 Ultra Low for men, as well as a Nike Pegasus 89 and Nike AF Upstep Warrior for women.
Since its inception, the N7 collection has promoted the capacity of sport to encourage resilience against adversity. Through its ambassadors, including lacrosse player Lyle Thompson, basketball guard Jude Schimmel and musician and dancer Taboo, N7 seeks to inspire new generations to represent their culture and use sport as a positive agent for change. Each year, these ambassadors are also joined by a number of NCAA basketball teams, who will wear Nike N7 Turquoise uniforms in select games throughout November in celebration of NAHM.
Thompson, of the Onondaga Nation in upstate New York, is the inspiration behind the N7 Spirit of Protection Collection. His story reflects the “Dare to Rise” attitude inherent to all N7 ambassadors and the greater drive to inspire and enable Native American and Aboriginal youth in North America to participate in sport and physical activity. It could be said that Thompson’s athletic path was predestined. The youngest of lacrosse’s famously formidable Thompson Brothers, he was born into the hawk clan, which, along with his spirit animal, the eagle, inform his native name: Deyhahsanoondey. Signifying “He is flying over us,” the designation inspired the athlete’s spontaneous play, characterized by leaping one-handed and backhand shots, and unexpected passes.
“I’ve always tried to find purpose within my name,” Thompson explains. “I bring my name into my game, to the way I play, to the way I am as a person. It all started with the hawk.”
In Thompson’s view, the hawk is one of nature’s stronger, smarter animals, but more importantly the bird possesses intuition and vision. “[A hawk] has great vision, like myself; I have vision when I play the game. I’m someone who sees the field really well.”
This vision has earned Thompson lacrosse’s top honors: He set the NCAA Division I record for career points (400) and assists (255), he’s the first male back-to-back winner of college lacrosse’s highest honor, the Tewaaraton Award, and he helped propel the Iroquois Nationals, the national lacrosse team of the Six Nation/Iroquois, to the silver medal in the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, which they hosted for the first time. As Thompson sees it, his play, the collection, his mentorship through N7 and his work through Thompson Brothers Lacrosse ultimately share the same aim: to inspire the next generation to adopt the N7 call to “Move Your Generation.”
“I know the struggle,” Thompson emphasizes. “I know what it’s like growing up on a reservation—what we’re surrounded by, the big struggles we go through. Sport gives the kids something to do. The more the kids love the game, the more they’re focused and the more their minds are on that and not the other struggles in life. There are different things that are going to hit you, but if you stay focused and truly love what you do, that will keep you on your path.”
The N7 Spirit of Protection collection launches November 7 on nike.com, SNKRS and at select retailers in North America.