indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Brandon Ecoffey: Basketball means family and love for Lakota

Filed Under: Opinion | Sports
More on: basketball, brandon ecoffey, native sun news, south dakota
     

The following opinion was written by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.


Brandon Ecoffey

The Lakota, LNI, and the ‘Love of Our’
by BRANDON ECOFFEY
Native Sun News Managing Editor

As a Lakota who grew up with a basketball in my hand, idolizing reservation greats like Jesse Lebeau, Bryan Brewer Jr., and Charlie Cuny, I knew from a very young age that for my community, the game meant more to us than it did for others.

Some have said basketball is poetry in motion. Phil Jackson wrote, “On any given night, the lessons of life are played out on the basketball court.” John Wooden said while describing how to play the game, "It isn't what you do, but how you do it." Each touches on a small element of how we Lakota see the sport we love, but it is really so much more. It is a game that transcends the barriers that keep people apart. The socio-economic, geographical, and on occasion, racial ramparts that prevent us from understanding one another on the most basic and human levels are crushed by the power of the bonds we create doing battle on the hardwood. The game brings us together and it has the power to make strangers family.

When I think back, my earliest vivid memory of high school hoops is from 1990. I was only 6 years old when the Custer Wildcats defeated the Red Cloud Crusaders in the state championship game; however, I can still recall some of the sights and sounds of that day as if I had just left the gym moments ago. I remember thinking Trevor Long (who played for Custer) seemed to never miss a shot, the Custer team shattered the back board in celebration, and even in defeat Jude Fairbanks and Beau Lebeau were honored gladiators whose feats ranked in history right alongside the accolades of our greatest warriors.

While most Americans share stories of Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, and Jessie Owens at the dinner table, my family talks about Jesse Lebeau shooting countless jumpers on the rim outside my house, to the point where my mom would open the door to tell him to go home; and about Willie White and the Brewer boys going undefeated and winning the state championship in 1988; or the time my Dad climbed from the upper balcony and over the safety railing in the Rapid City Civic Center, like a drunken frat boy, to rush the floor when Willie Richards and the 1995 Red Cloud Crusaders won it all.

Throughout life, basketball stayed with me. People would come and go, but the memories we created on the court together never left. The greatest players I encountered were those who were robbed of the opportunity to reach their full potential. Players like Derek Paulsen who I watched in awe, and the best guard I ever played against, Jesse Vasquez, who hung 50 on a team I played for in the 8th grade both passed in tragic car accidents. On the Pine Ridge Reservation we were taught to view the game differently than most, and to see those who played it as larger than life. The way Derek Paulsen played the game had such a profound impact on me that, even though he was a white guy who played for a white team and we had never met, I was brought to tears when I was told of him dying in a car wreck while returning from the South Dakota Mr. Basketball awards ceremony. Several years later when I lost my own dream of winning a state title at the hands of his younger brother Paige, I walked up to him and told him that his brother was there on the court with him that night, and that I knew he was proud of what Paige had done. This was despite the fact that I thought my own destiny included me winning the state title that he was celebrating.

I learned how to build a family by watching Dusty Lebeau mold a group of young boys, from different backgrounds, gang allegiances, and families, into a cohesive unit willing to ignore the outside world and build each other in to something special when I played for him. The same held true for the Pine Ridge Thorpe family, as they embraced me when I slipped on the red and white for the first time after playing for the cross town rival Red Cloud High School my entire life. Basketball is part of our community.

For us basketball is family. It is love. It is who we are. It is a place where we represent our loved ones, and in my personal opinion–is an exhibition of what it is to be Lakota. Now I can only speak for myself and how I see the world, but on the court we see our kids play with courage and compassion, for community and family, and at its most basic level, for love. To me, along with our spirituality, this is what it means to be Lakota.

The Lakota Nation Invitational is the epicenter of a special purity that comes to life when a Lakota laces up their Jordans and picks up a basketball. I tell those who do not know our people intimately to forget the statistics, forget the poverty porn created by the media, forget what you think you know about us and for four days look on the court and see our kids being who they really are…Lakota.

Brandon is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and a lifelong resident of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who earned his education at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. He is currently the managing editor of Native Sun News , the Current Events and Life editor at Native Max Magazine and a contributor to LastRealIndians.com and can be followed on Twitter @BEcoffeynswkly or at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
House to resume consideration of Interior appropriations measure (7/7)
Senate and House consider bills to reform No Child Left Behind Act (7/7)
Native Sun News: Tribes fight another pipeline through Great Plains (7/7)
Lakota Country Times: KILI Radio granted wish of new mixing board (7/7)
Editorial: Crazy Horse made everyone brave on Bighorn battlefield (7/7)
Charles Kader: Mohawk man looked for signs of escaped prisoners (7/7)
Steven Newcomb: U.S. keeps original nations in a state of captivity (7/7)
Save Oak Flat caravan exits Arizona for journey to nation's capital (7/7)
Two face sentences as part of Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption case (7/7)
Duwamish Tribe won't give up long fight for recognition recognition (7/7)
Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation opposes BIA's federal recognition rule (7/7)
Museum in New York to display U.S. flag given to Iroquois in 1800s (7/7)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe ignores order to stop working on casino (7/7)
Chumash Tribe defeats lawsuit that sought to halt casino expansion (7/7)
Grand Traverse Band opens restaurant across from gaming facility (7/7)
Connecticut tribes pay out nearly 92 percent put into slot machines (7/7)
Indian Country rallies to return Jim Thorpe back home to Oklahoma (7/6)
Jodi Gillette joins board of directors for Notah Begay III Foundation (7/6)
President Obama signs bill to help Miami Nation revoke old charter (7/6)
House Natural Resources Committee weighs tribal bills at markup (7/6)
Witnesses: Senate Indian Affairs Committee trust reform hearing (7/6)
Conservative group to file class action lawsuit to challenge ICWA (7/6)
Native Sun News: Oglala leader links deaths to domestic violence (7/6)
Lakota Country Times: Native youth work on drama and filmmaking (7/6)
James Giago Davies: The things that really matter to Lakota people (7/6)
Alray Nelson: Navajo Nation must move toward marriage equality (7/6)
Terese Mailhot: Get your Disney princesses out of Indian Country (7/6)
Alex Jacobs: Genocide and slavery aren't taught in our classrooms (7/6)
Gregory Smithers: Cherokee Nation gave up Confederate imagery (7/6)
Duane Champagne: Tribes willing to adapt without losing identity (7/6)
Washington fights tribal treaty rights decision before 9th Circuit (7/6)
Bobcat wearing necklace found at Native burial mound in Illinois (7/6)
Editorial: Osage Nation loses out with energy development rules (7/6)
Editorial: Connecticut wins with BIA's federal recognition reforms (7/6)
Editorial: A woman belongs on $20 bill instead of Andrew Jackson (7/6)
Non-Indian man plans appeal in loss of Gun Lake Tribe casino case (7/6)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe told to stop working on gaming facility (7/6)
Bishop Paiute Tribe seeks loan for $30M casino expansion project (7/6)
Seminole Tribe waits on response in Class III casino compact talks (7/6)
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas plays poker at tribal casino in Oklahoma (7/6)
Law Article: Saginaw Chippewa Tribe loses ruling in NLRB dispute (7/6)
Native Sun News: Deadly storm hits Crow Creek Sioux Reservation (7/3)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud youth hold suicide awareness walk (7/3)
Delphine Red Shirt: Speak the Lakota language to carry on culture (7/3)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules trust reform hearing (7/3)
Chumash Tribe wins dismissal of suit over status of reservation (7/3)
Four groups in Oklahoma seeking federal recognition through BIA (7/3)
Little Shell Chippewa Tribe welcomes federal recognition reforms (7/3)
Leader of Duwamish Tribe calls denial of recognition 'devastating' (7/3)
Editorial: Other tribes in Virginia deserve federal recognition too (7/3)
Ojibwe hockey star excited for transfer to team in nation's capital (7/3)
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe wants sacred rock on national register (7/3)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe won't give up on wind energy despite delays (7/3)
Catawba Nation fought against British during Revolutionary War (7/3)
Kootenai Tribe of Idaho revives powwow after 15-year absence (7/3)
Taos Pueblo man sentenced to seven years in prison for stabbing (7/3)
Disputed leader of Chukchansi Tribe sentenced for clash at casino (7/3)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe starts work on Class II gaming facility (7/3)
Tohono O'odham Nation faces state in court in new casino lawsuit (7/3)
Cherokee Nation to open hotel at $80M casino near Arkansas in fall (7/3)
Brian Pierson: Tribal labor sovereignty could land in Supreme Court (7/3)
Pierre Bergeron: Judges split on federal labor law at tribal casinos (7/3)
Native Sun News: Lakota riders complete journey to Little Bighorn (7/2)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home top honors at NAJA (7/2)
Brandon Ecoffey: Delivering stories that matter to Indian Country (7/2)
Ivan Star: Creating a culturally appropriate economy at Pine Ridge (7/2)
Elizabeth Hawksworth: Being patriotic and being Native in Canada (7/2)
Micah A: Blood quantum does not make me any less of an Indian (7/2)
David Shorter: Learning not to speak on behalf of Native peoples (7/2)
Marc Simmons: Legend of Catholic priest saved by grateful tribe (7/2)
Sen. McCain deemed responsible for land swap at sacred Oak Flat (7/2)
A Tribe Called Red releases free remix of Buffy Sainte-Marie track (7/2)
Pamunkey Tribe wins final federal recognition decision from BIA (7/2)
Duwamish Tribe rejected for federal recognition for a third time (7/2)
BIA accused of blocking road access on New Mexico reservation (7/2)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.