February 17, 2009

The unofficial sport of Indian country

NABI more than basketballIn 2003, the Native American Basketball Invitational took notice of basketball’s significance across Indian country and, in a very short period of time, made great strides toward helping Native youth utilize their incredible basketball talents for a larger purpose--school success, basketball opportunities and higher education. Now, NABI has pushed the envelope farther, not only using the universal language of basketball, but also the languages of pow wow and baseball as vehicles to get Native youth to realize their dreams.

Basketball is considered by some to be the unofficial sport of Indian country. From Montana to Oklahoma to Arizona and all points in between, there are small towns on Indian reservations (pueblos, settlements, rancherias or communities) that are beating non-Native teams.

These Native powerhouses have this same level of success annually--many of these teams are powers within their respective states every year. Still, despite such success and ability across Native nations, there was no “community”--a place where the best Native basketball players within a particular state could test their mettle, as well as communicate and compare their experiences to other Native players.

Despite the abundant talent, there was a distinct lack of opportunities for Native basketball players to push their talents on the hardwood and in the classroom past the high school level. This was a result of the unwritten rule that prevented college coaches from seeing Native players as legitimate prospects. Enter NABI--its mission is to make sure talented Native ballplayers have the same opportunity to play basketball at a post-high school level and develop a legacy of educational and experiential success in college using basketball as the vehicle.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see 1904 Women's Basketball Champs and Basketball Players Aim for Division I.

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