Archive for October, 2018

Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2018


In my Mojave culture, many of our songs are maps, but not in the sense of an American map. Mojave song-maps do not draw borders or boundaries, do not say this is knowable, or defined, or mine. Instead our maps use language to tell about our movements and wonderings (not wanderings) across a space, naming what has happened along the way while also compelling us toward what is waiting to be discovered, where we might go and who we might meet or become along the way.

This feature of indigenous women is meant to be like those song-maps, to offer myriad ways of “poetic” and linguistic experience—a journey through or across memory, or imagination, across pain or joy or the impossibility of each, across our bodies of land and water and flesh and ink—an ever-shifting, ever-returning, ever-realizing map of movement, of discovery, of possibility, of risk—of indigenous and native poetry. It is my luck to welcome you to this indigenous space and invite you into the conversations of these poems, languages, imageries and wonders. In the first installment of this bi-monthly feature, I’m pleased to share the work of Laura Da’, Kimberly Blaeser, Heid E. Erdrich, and Kat Page (full bios below).

  –‘Ahotk, Natalie Diaz


Fort Shaw Indian School, 1904

Shoot, Minnie, Shoot, 2004 book by Happy Jack Feder. Movie, 2013

Full-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School Basketball Champions of the World, Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith, 2008

Playing for the World, Montana PBS, 2009

2001Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn, 

In this extraordinary work of journalism, Larry Colton journeys into the world of Montana’s Crow Indians and follows the struggles of a talented, moody, charismatic young woman named Sharon LaForge, a gifted basketball player and a descendant of one of George Armstrong Custer’s Indian scouts. But “Counting Coup” is far more than just a sports story or a portrait of youth. It is a sobering exposé of a part of our society long since cut out of the American dream.

2001: “Rocks with Wings:” A documentary that aired nationally on PBS chronicles the success of the Shiprock Lady Chieftains, a Navajo high school girl’s basketball program.

2005: Native Athletes in Sport and Society

Though many Americans might be aware of the Olympian and football Hall of Famer Jim Thorpe or of Navajo golfer Notah Begay, few know of the fundamental role that Native athletes have played in modern sports: introducing popular games and contests, excelling as players, and distinguishing themselves as coaches. The full breadth and richness of this tradition unfolds in Native Athletes in Sport and Society, which highlights the accomplishments of Indigenous athletes in the United States and Canada but also explores what these accomplishments have meant to Native American spectators and citizens alike.
Here are Thorpe and Begay as well as the Winnebago baseball player George Johnson, the Snohomish Notre Dame center Thomas Yarr, the Penobscot baseball player Louis Francis Sockalexis, and the Lakota basketball player SuAnne Big Crow. Their stories are told alongside those of Native athletic teams such as the NFL’s Oorang Indians, the Shiprock Cardinals (a Navajo women’s basketball team), the women athletes of the Six Nations Reserve, and the Fort Shaw Indian Boarding School’s girls’ basketball team, who competed in the 1904 World’s Fair. Superstars and fallen stars, journeymen and amateurs, coaches and gatekeepers, activists and tricksters appear side by side in this collection, their stories articulating the issues of power and possibility, difference and identity, representation and remembrance that have shaped the means and meaning of American Indians playing sport in North America.

2013: Beyond the X – Rez Ball, Max Preps and Beyond the X: Rez Ball fuels basketball fever in Arizona’s Navajo Nation

2013: Former Arizona State University women’s basketball player Ryneldi Becenti got her #21 jersey retired, first Native American to play in the WNBA (Phoenix)

2013: Angel Goodrich makes good in WNBA

As rookie Angel Goodrich broke the huddle with her Tulsa Shock teammates and headed for the jump ball at center court to start the game, the crowd in the stands of the Bok Center waved signs and cheered. it was May 27, 2013, and many in the crowd were there to see Angel make history as the first Native American to start a WNBA game. Her fans, most of them seated on the Shock’s end of the court, wore t-shirts emblazoned with her name across the front. Angel only played 11 minutes that night, and she turned the ball over three times. but by midseason, she was starting regularly and handing out 5-6 assists per game. On Native American night in July, the stands were full of fans from many different tribes – not just Cherokee nation – there to cheer her on.
“I saw so many familiar faces tonight,” said the happy 5-4 guard after that midseason game. “I felt like i knew everyone in one section. It is definitely an honor to represent them.”

The Schimmel’s

 “Off the Rez,” 2011 A profile of Native American basketball player Shoni Schimmel and her mother Ceci Moses. The documentary follows the family’s quest to secure a college scholarship for Schimmel by leaving their home on the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon.

Basketball is the bridge, 2013

For Schimmel and her family, basketball (and the distinctive style of play called Rez ball) became the bridge from the reservation to the outside world. While few Native Americans have made that leap, Schimmel is by no means the first. Minnihaha (Minnie) Burton was the first Native American to make a name for herself as a basketball player back in 1904.

The Schimmel Effect, 2014

Native Driven Network chronicles the amazing impact that Shoni & Jude Schimmel have had on Indian Country. We catch up with the Schimmel Sisters to find out what they have been doing since moving “Off The Rez” put them into the national spotlight.

Inside Stuff visits with All-Star Shoni Schimmel, 2015

2014: Short film: “Lady Thunderhawks: Leading the Way,”  Wisconsin varsity basketball team is a pillar of hope for an entire community.

2015: “Basketball on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation,”  video, Trans World Sport

2015Eight Native ballers you need to know better (Angel Goodrich, Tahnee Robinson, Jude Schimmel, Jenna Plumley), Indian Country Today

2017:  With rich hoops roots, Native American twins Kyarrah and Kyannah Grant bud into stars

Kyarrah and Kyannah Grant run about 30 miles each week. Twice a week, the fraternal twins sprint alongside the glimmering, blue-black ripples of Lake Pushmataha about 35 miles north of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reservation — the place they call home.

Most people are fishing or boating or admiring the cedar, pine and cypress trees that guard the lake. But the Grant sisters do not have time to stop or stare along the trail. When Kyarrah tries to zip ahead, Kyannah pushes farther. When Kyannah pulls away, Kyarrah zooms faster.

2017: Record-Setting Alumna Inspires Teens to Shoot for their Dreams – Former UNLV basketball player Gwynn Hobbs Grant encourages Native American youths to create their own success.

“I am a Rebel, and I’ll be a Rebel for life,” Grant said, before becoming just the fifth women’s basketball player to be inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame in May. “UNLV gave me my degree, and it gave me an opportunity to do what I love. It’s a basis for who I am, and it gave me an identity.”

Grant, ’95 BA Sociology, stood out for setting long-term goals and her legendary long-range stroke — she remains the program’s most accurate three-point shooter at 40.6 percent — as a child growing up on a Navajo reservation in Ganado, Arizona.

“I had someone I looked up to on the reservation,” Grant recalls. “My uncle was one of the best to come off the reservation and play at the collegiate level. I wanted to be like him and play like him.

2017: Nike’s Native American Division Continues its Work with Native Kids

On November 24th the University of Nevada — Reno women’s basketball team ran out into the Lawlor Events Center in a preseason tournament game against the Sacramento State Hornets; instead of their traditional anthracite uniforms they had worn for every home game during the ‘17-’18 season, they took the court wearing turquoise Nike N7 jerseys

2017: The Jr. NBA partners with the Native American Basketball Invitational for 15th annual tournament,  The Undefeated

For 15 years, the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) Tournament has united basketball fans as well as current and former athletes for an exciting yet competitive week of basketball fun in Maricopa, Arizona. This year, the Jr. NBA has partnered with NABI to include more than 80 Native American ninth-graders for a three-day basketball camp that aims to teach the high schoolers basketball techniques and how to apply sports and daily techniques toward life skills.

From July 10-12, about 40 boys and 40 girls from tribes across North America and New Zealand participated in positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, and 5-on-5 games taught by league staff members, players and coaches, according to the press release. Special guests included Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger, former NBA small forward Cedric Ceballos, women’s basketball Hall of Famer Ann Meyers Drysdale, pro basketballer Damen Bell-Holter and former Los Angeles Lakers forward A.C. Green, who is part Native American.

2018: Basketball camp taps Native women players, Navajo Times

It is very rare for anyone to be successful without any help. So, a key to being successful is finding someone who pushes you. Someone who pushes you to be the best you can be, said Buddy Tsingine.

“What I’ve seen are kids that I’ve coached in junior high,” said Tsingine, a retired basketball coach and a school administrator. “They never went on. They were better athletes than anybody. But after junior high, nothing.”

That is why Tsingine and his family are now inspiring area young people to take charge of their own future and complete their education past junior high and high school.

“Because they never went on – that’s what’s been bothering me,” Tsingine explained. “They have so much talent and we have so many people who are so smart.”

Earlier this month, Tsingine and his daughter, Georgia Lynn Tsingine, a family physician in Phoenix, invited Native basketball players Shoni Schimmel (Umatilla) and Abby Scott (Warm Springs) here to coach a basketball clinic at Tuba City Boarding School.

2018: Basketball standout Jude Schimmel helps open Piestewa Games, Arizona Sports

Jude Schimmel has started in a Final Four game, interviewed President Barack Obama, written a book, Dreamcatcher, and starred in Nike commercials narrated by LeBron James. Now, as a 24-year-old Native American woman, she is using her platform to encourage Native Americans to go out and live healthier lifestyles.

2018:  ‘LOOKING FOR SOMEONE LIKE ME,‘ Daily Yonder

JJ Nakai misses her days playing electrifying basketball on the reservation.

But the jam-packed gymnasiums, the thunderous crowds – united by heritage, momentarily divided by team colors – the breakneck pace of play and the irresponsibly creative trick passes are more than just memories.

They provide the framework for how she plays, the fabric of her game, infused in her basketball DNA, and part of why she’s one of the highest-rated junior-college basketball players in the country, with dreams of playing Division I.

“I loved playing on the reservation so much. The atmosphere once you’d enter the gym was so amazing. It was packed, I miss it,” said Nakai, a member of the Navajo Nation and the point guard at Pima Community College in Tucson.

A Division I offer would mean more than just a chance to play basketball on a big stage. It would help Nakai become the first member of her immediate family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. It also could make her the Native American role model she looked for but never found while growing up.

2019: The NABI Foundation is proud to announce the 16th Annual NABI Basketball Tournament, June 23-29

NativeHoops.com: Native American Basketball – Tournaments / Camps / Clinics


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THIS is why

we shouldn’t let AP Doug fly places. THINGS HAPPEN WHEN HE’S IN THE AIR.

Best of luck to the departing Prez Borders.

I’m intrigued about who the W might look for. As part of a company who just went through the “new Executive Director” process, it’s interesting to think of what the W wants, not what I want. So, how about:

  • Someone committed to social justice
  • Someone with a strong business background, specifically with the ability to sell the brand to sponsors
  • Someone who will take the time to understand that, as a niche sport, YOU CAN NEVER TAKE THE FANS FOR GRANTED, no matter how much sponsor money there is
  • Someone who can wrangle the 12 franchises into accepting what “Best Practices in Marketing” are and execute get the teams to follow them
  • Someone who is brave enough to share the financials of the league with the Player Reps and forceful enough to convince those players to keep that information internal
  • Someone who recognizes that a strong, active social media presence is essential. (So, yes, fix the damn .com) and that elevating any and all media coverage out there is essential. Which means: do not be afraid of criticism.
  • Someone who can commit to taking the league through its 25th year, ’cause the need to do a seriously good job of celebrating that
  • Someone who hires a team committed to the WNBA and its fanbase
  • Someone who will take the time to honor, preserve and celebrate the entirety of the WNBA’s history.
  • Finally, (and I’m being selfish here), someone with connections to a New Yorker who will buy the Liberty/Knicks/Rangers, kick Dolan out of the City and return my Lib to where they belong: Madison Square Garden

Where do I want them to look?

  • Former NCAA/W players or other athletes in other sports who’ve moved into the business world
  • Athletic Directors
  • ESPN executives
  • NIKE executives

About that GOLD MEDAL!!!!

I’ll admit it – I was nervous. The US-Belgium hadn’t been easy. And, through the tournament, I was concerned about the play of the young guards, the lack of a perimeter defensive stopper, and Dawn’s free-for-all-yes-I-know-you’re-resting-folks-but-what-is-happening! substitution pattern.

The arena had been rocking for the Belgium/Spain game – damn, it was a good’un!! – and it was cool to see Diana congratulate some of the Spaniard’s after their bronze medal finish. But the crowed seemed emotionally exhausted when it came time for the US to face Australia, and the Americans made sure to keep them that way. No doubt, Liz had no legs for this game. And Griner was superb against her – smart, contained, deliberate. The arena didn’t forget Liz’s sass during the Opals game against Spain, so she was greeted with good natured whistles and hoots, but not eventhat attention could get her shots to fall. Steadily, relentlessly, almost dispassionately, the US dismantled the Aussies to earn the win. The group came together as a team in that final game, and it was really cool to see.

It was also really cool to watch all the different players interact during the awards/medal ceremony (coaches, too!). There are so many inter-relationships we fans no nothing about. Fun to bear witness.

Community was kind and welcoming. Loved the cohorts of young students they brought in. Volunteers and staff were amazing. Tenerife rocked it. Aaaand, I got to visit the volcano El Teide!









Final note: A nice moment from the prelims, Japan’s first win, there were 75-100 young’uns in attendance. All waving some sort of Japanese flag. (School project, maybe?) Japan’s Takada took time, post-interview, to visit with some of them and take pictures. THAT’s building the game.

AND: It’s time for North America to bid for the games. I’ll say it again: USA Bball should partner with Canadian Bball and co-host. Seattle/Vancouver, with the final rounds happening in the newly renovated Key Arena. It wouldn’t overly stress the Storm admin (unlike the ASG) and I’ve got to believe the many international fans would love to visit two great cities. Make it happen, folks!

Can’t get enough of international basketball? Follow Paul! 

The Undefeated: WNBA All-Star Maya Moore wants to reward great coaches

WATN? Former WNBA and Andover Central star Tiffany Bias returns to Wichita



What I did while on vacation For the National Women’s History Museum, 2200 words on 22 years (Please excuse the typos. Hoping they’ll be fixed soon) “We Got Next!” The History of the WNBA

On June 21st, 1997, Lisa Leslie, center for the Los Angeles Sparks, and Kym Hampton, center for the New York Liberty, took the ceremonial “jump ball” marking the official start of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Leslie, 25, had just earned an Olympic gold medal as part of the 1996 US National team. Hampton, who’d graduated from Arizona State University in 1984, had spent the last twelve years playing professional basketball in Spain, Italy, France, and Japan. Between the two stood league president Val Ackerman. A four-year starter at the University of Virginia, in 1977 Ackerman had been one of school’s first female students to receive an athletic scholarship.

As the orange and oatmeal-paneled ball was tossed into the air, their names were added to the ever-expanding road of women’s basketball history.

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