April 20, 2009

Indians love rez ball

Not Just Basketball. Rez Ball.

By Debra Utacia Krol“Rez ball” is what we like to call basketball. It’s a major obsession in Indian Country, and when March Madness is over, we are still gearing up for the Native American Basketball Invitational, held in Phoenix from July 8–10. It’s precisely why air conditioning was invented.

Across the nation, Indian kids are dribbling, weaving and jumping, and pretending to be Michael Jordan. Sometimes they’re playing on a pristine court in the local school gym; other times, they’re making their move for hoop glory under a bright blue sky on a packed dirt “court” with an ancient, rusting hoop attached to the side of a barn, with a slowly-leaking ball that has to be pumped up periodically.

No matter how poor a community may be, parents scrimp and save to get to games to cheer their kids on. Teams named the Winslow Bulldogs, Hopi Bruins, or San Carlos Braves go head-to-head to bring home coveted state championship trophies, traveling as many as eight hours on a converted old bus to play teams in Window Rock, Snowflake, Casa Grande or Flagstaff.

Tribal newspapers always devote lots of room to report the latest game stats. Even KTNN, the Navajo Nation’s radio station, broadcasts Phoenix Suns games in the Navajo language.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Unofficial Sport of Indian Country.

Below:  "Raw hoops: The SBT Shockwaves of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, from Lapwai, Idaho." (Photo: NABI)

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