BILLINGS - Some of Montana's top tribal teams are taking their skills to the basketball court in Billings to play under the bright lights at MetraPark for two adrenaline-filled days of basketball games and halftime shows.
This invite-only tournament, All-American Indian Shootout, is drawing eight teams from across Montana and even North Dakota representing six reservations and nine tribes, including Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Assiniboine, Sioux, Salish, Kootenai, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations.
“It's really fun looking up in the crowd seeing everybody look down and cheer you on when they call out your name. It's a pretty amazing experience,” said Larry Plain Bull, Plenty Coups Warrior team captain.
Plain Bull is a senior from Pryor, a Plenty Coups Warrior, team captain, and power forward but the parade of athletes during this tournament makes him stop in his tracks to soak in the moment from center court as cultural traditions of each tribe are represented as each team and player’s name is called out individually, creating a tremendous sense of pride in these student-athletes.
“I think it just means a lot to Native Americans, all the fans in the crowd. It gives me jitters,” said Charlie Goes Ahead, Plenty Coups Lady Warrior senior.
“Representing myself, the school and this community and the tribe I'm from,” said Fabian Wise Spirit, Plenty Coups Warrior team captain.
“I just like the competitiveness,” said Brynecia Hugs, Plenty Coups Lady Warrior sophomore.
Event Founder Shawn Backbone visited Q2 Montana This Morning on Friday. Watch his interview below:
The student part is equally as important as the athlete at this shootout founded by Crow tribal member Shawn Backbone. It is a non-profit in its 11th year, donating all proceeds back to tribal schools.
“The parade of athletes is showcasing the student-athlete, remembering education comes first, then basketball second, so we showcase that because they have good grades and they are eligible to play basketball and everybody wants to play basketball at the Metra,” said Backbone.
“I’m actually going to college for firefighting. I got accepted into SKC, Salish Kootenai College,” said Goes Ahead.
That’s something any head coach and athletic director can be proud of.
“The All-American Indian Shootout is probably the best basketball you’ll see in Montana at this point in the season. There’s nothing like the brand of basketball you’ll see. The ball handling is some of the finest ball handling you'll see in basketball period. I encourage you to come out and watch the Plenty Coups Lady Warriors,” says Cameron McCormick, Plenty Coups head girls basketball coach and athletic director.
Here's the full schedule of games: