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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 5, 2003 - Issue 84


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Red Lake Team Returns With Fourth Place Trophy

By Molly Miron - Staff Writer -Bemidji Pioneer
credits: Pioneer Photo by Molly Miron The Red Lake boys basketball team poses for pictures with their Class A 4th-place trophy following their 58-41 loss to Hancock Saturday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

Pioneer Photo by Molly Miron The Red Lake boys basketball team poses for pictures with their Class A 4th-place trophy following their 58-41 loss to Hancock Saturday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Lake Ogichidaag qualified Saturday for fourth place in the Minnesota Class A boys' basketball tournament.

After a struggle through the early part of the season, the team earned a place in the championships and brought hundreds of fans along with them to Minneapolis.

"It's not really a letdown," said fan Dan Lemon after the boys' fourth-place finish Saturday. "The bottom line is they're still No. 1 in our hearts."

And that attitude among fans from all over the state built a strong support network for the team. Folks from babies and toddlers, aspiring grade school and middle school basketball players, moms, dad, grandparents, and an extended community family gathered around the team for both tournament games Friday against the Ellsworth Panthers and Saturday against The Hancock Owls.

The game Saturday opened with the Red Lake Flag Song by a group of men with hand drums, followed by the Star Spangled Banner and a moment of silence in respect for those fighting the war in Iraq. Then it was time to play ball.

"You've got to stay through the whole works," said Eunice Roy and the fans loyalty.

"It's not very often Red Lake comes down here," said Larry Roy. "You'll see other reservations here."

The last time Red Lake reached the championships was in 1997.

"There were quite a few from Nett Lake that watched the whole tournament," said David Morrison Sr. of Bois Forte. "It's not every day you see an all Indian team in the state tournament. We've bee following them since '98."

Morrison and his wife, Teresa, watched Saturday's game with their son, Darian, a third grader who had collected the autographs of all the Red Lake team members.

"We thank all our fans from other reservations," said Diane Stately, whose son, Guy Stately, an eighth grader, played in Saturday's tournament game.

"He's a three-point kid," she said. "He made over 150 points in seventh and eighth grade. I'm so proud."

She said the boys were so dedicated to basketball, they were shoveling snow of off spaces to play when they were 8 or 9 years old.

"That's really wanting to play ball," Diane said. "I've been following them. I went to Warroad last winter. I'd never been to Warroad in my life. I followed the reservation plates."

If there was a long distance fan prize, it probably would have gone to Julius Oakgrove.

"I came from Arlington, Texas, to watch the games, a two-and-a-half hour flight," said Oakgrove,

A member of the 1956 Red Lake Warriors basketball team, Oakgrove said his team didn't make it to the finals.

"Bemidji was too tough," he said.

Red Lake High School Principal Chris Dunshee expressed pride in the players. He said the opportunity to play for a top title in the state and the fan support are character building experiences.

"I'm hoping these boys can use this for a stepping stone, a platform for bigger and better things," Dunshee said.

Joe Johnson expressed some of the feelings of the supporters that expend throughout the larger community.

"Basketball is much more than basketball," he said. "It's about Indians winning for a change. They're only the second team that made it thus far."

Red Lake Indian Reservation (Minnesota) Map

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