July 20, 2011

ONE Gathering Skate for Life

Skateboarding Helping American Indians

By Carol BerryFrom youthful despair to a life of helping others, a former professional skateboarder is encouraging young Natives to find hope in the same way he did years ago.

“I was from a poor, broken family,” said Jim Murphy, 45, of Lenni Lenape ancestry. “But skating gave me something to be happy about, and I knew any kid with a skateboard had a fighting chance.”

Murphy talked with young skaters July 9 at the ONE Gathering Skate for Life, described as “A Live Life Call to Action Campaign” of the nonprofit Stronghold Society, leaders of which are Walt Pourier, Oglala Lakota, a Denver graphic artist, and Murphy, owner of Wounded Knee Skateboards.
Skate for Life Competition Aims to Connect Youth Through SkateboardingThe Stronghold Society’s ONE Gathering Skate For Life event takes place on July 9 at the Downtown Denver Skatepark, on 19th and Little Raven. This skateboarding competition was created to bring American Indian youths from the Denver community together with their peers from the rest of Colorado and surrounding states. The event will serve as an outreach program to help educate American Indian communities to the myriad social and health challenges their children face today. The Stronghold Society states their mission on their website; to inspire confidence, creativity, hope and ambition for the youth of native and non-native communities. They are a non-profit.

The competition at the Downtown Denver Skatepark has special meaning due to its location near the South Platte River, a historical gathering place for many tribes. ”Our overall goal for the ONE Gathering—Skate For Life is to promote inclusiveness and a positive impact on youth of all races by incorporating artistic achievement, social change, innovation, education, and healthy way of life outlooks,” said Walt Pourier, Executive Director of the Stronghold Society, in a press release.
Comment:  For more on Native skateboarding, see Skateboard Replaces Pony on the Rez? and Skateboarding = Native Culture.

Below:  "Dakota White, 13, Northern Cheyenne/Lakota, who lives on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, Wisconsin, and who has been in skateboard competition several years." (Carol Berry)

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