Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



pictograph divider


Native American Hoop Dreams


by Bob Young Arizona Republic


If you've ever visited or spent any time on the Navajo reservation, you know how much the people there love basketball.

Seems like every home has a backboard and rim - sometimes just the rim.

It's common for fans to start lining up outside gymnasiums at 4 p.m. for a 7 p.m. high school game. It's the same on many reservations.

That's why we think it's pretty cool that a group has organized a Native American National Team, which will compete next season in the American Basketball Association.

The team, which will be based in Albuquerque and tentatively plans to play at the University of New Mexico's "Pit," will be the first Native American club in a professional sports league.

But then the ABA is different that way. Of the 33 teams expected to be in the league for the 2004-05 season - up from seven last season - 23 are owned by African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans or women.

According to the man behind the plan, Spider Ledesma, the ABA team is a means to an end.

It is Ledesma's vision - literally, because he says the Lord laid it out to him seven years ago - to have a Native American team eligible for the Olympics.

He's looked up this stuff and thinks it will work.

"After investigating aspects of our sovereignty, I found out we should be allowed to compete in the Olympics," he said. "Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa and the Virgin Islands all have their own Olympic programs. The citizens of those countries are U.S. citizens, just like Native Americans are."

Meanwhile, Ledesma is hoping the ABA will provide a platform for the developmental program.

Seven tryout camps are scheduled across the nation to evaluate Native American prospects. There is a tryout in Phoenix Aug. 21 and one in Albuquerque July 24.

Anyone of Native American heritage who is a high school graduate is eligible. Information is available at We should note here there's a substantial fee - $200 - for the tryout camps, but the proceeds go toward paying the ABA franchise fee.

Ledesma, 40, figures to be one of the stars of the team. A member of a Mission Indians tribe in Southern California, the 6-foot-11 Ledesma played on Mexico's national team in the Pan-American Games. He spent a preseason with the Los Angeles Clippers and most recently played in Cyprus.

Michael Davis, a 6-11 member of the Seminole Nation in Oklahoma, and Joseph Prue, a 6-6 Sioux swingman, also are expected to be on the team. Ledesma figures the camps will provide an opportunity to form the ABA roster, and also identify prospects for future national and junior national teams.

"There may be some younger players who aren't quite ready," he said. "We'll know who they are from the camps."

Ultimately, Ledesma believes one of those young players will reach the game's highest level.

"That's why I founded the program," he said. "I got tired of seeing great talent literally go to waste. In the next several years, we'll have a Native American in the NBA."

Pheonix, AZ Map

Maps by Travel

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!