Eight American Indian teams set to clash in annual Shootout

Thursday, November 29, 2018

File photo by Andrew Turck

A crowd cheers during the December 2017 All-American Indian Shootout. This year will be the second time that the event is run under a 501(c)(3) group known as the All American Indian Youth.

Three days of competition within the spacious Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in Billings are scheduled next weekend, Dec. 6-8, for the annual All-American Indian Shootout. Though the number of teams set to compete – eight – is fewer than last year’s 12, new groups have arrived from Mandaree, North Dakota and White Shield, North Dakota.

Also set to compete are the Northern Cheyenne, Plenty Coups, Lame Deer, St. Labre, Hardin JV and Lodge Grass JV teams. The first match-up will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6 between the Lodge Grass JV and Northern Cheyenne girls’ teams. Players will be recognized from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in the All Teams Grand-Entry Parade.

“This is all for the youth,” said Shawn Backbone, the Crow Tribe’s vice chairman who has helped organize the event since it began in December 2014. “At the end of our tourney, when the gate money is done, we divvy it up and give it back to the schools.”

Dividing proceeds evenly has held true for this event since it began at the Shrine Auditorium in Billings under the title, “All American NDN Shoot Out.” To conclude those games, participating teams from Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota received $3,200 per school.

Though this is the event’s fourth year of operation, it is only its second under a 501(c)(3) group known as the All American Indian Youth. In previous years, it had been run through the Crow Tribe’s Executive Branch, before a push by tribal leaders to separate it from politics.

The board is chaired by Gordon Real Bird Sr. and also includes Backbone, Larry Pretty Weasel, Larry Blacksmith, Dexter Falls Down, Yvon Little Light Jr., Marlon Passes and Darrin Old Coyote. According to Backbone, all work done by the youth organization is volunteer.

To help with the event, Backbone wrote in a letter, financial support is requested to defray overhead costs stemming from insurance, facility rental, compensation of officials and a hospitality room. Contributions, he said, are tax deductible. To donate, call (406) 839-4719 or email sbackbone@yahoo.com.

This year’s honoree, he said, is Mike Chavez, a Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribal member who grew up on Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation. Chavez led Blackfeet Reservation basketball teams to three state championships before the end of his high school career in 2002. He was named the two-time State C Most Valuable Player for Heart Butte and was the State A MVP for Browning. From there, he went on to play for the University of Montana Grizzlies, where he completed a double major in anthropology and Native American studies.

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