Wash. Martin Stadium on the Washington State University campus
was the site of the 2009 Native All-Star Football Game. The crowd
wasnt huge, but enthusiasm was high on the field and in the
stands, as some of the best Native American high school football
players in the nation lined up against each other.
game turned into a defensive battle with a final score of 7-0 favoring
the white team. John Harjo, game director and member of the Creek
Nation of Oklahoma, said rather than having an east versus west
game, they had the two coaches alternately select players to build
their teams, hoping to create equality.
Sandusky, Colville, coached the red team and Bryan Raymond, Oklahoma
Cherokee, coached the white team. Each team had four assistant coaches
representing tribes from across the country.
talked of the selection process saying either the athletes or their
coaches might have signed them up. We go through video, talk
to coaches, even talk to parents, making sure we get some good kids.
Its not really the best-of-the-best because some have already
signed with Division I schools and their college coaches didnt
want them to play, but we have a lot of really good talent here
said the selection of white and red teams created some interesting
rivalry. In some cases, players who had played together all through
school were suddenly facing off against each other. Cousins Gideon
and Ashley Griggs from the White Mountain Apache Reservation were
on opposing teams. You can figure the rides home featured
some serious trash talking. You know theyre going to be rubbing
largest contingent of players came from the Oglala Lakota Tribe
with eight athletes. Second in numbers was Choctaw with six. About
25 tribes were represented by the 53 players.
Cardwell, owner and president of Brenco Industrial Services in Dallas,
was one of the sponsors, and served as a judge to select the players
to receive most valuable awards at the conclusion of the game. Cardwell
is from the Cheyenne Nation in southern Oklahoma.
through the game his enthusiasm likely represented what many others
in the stands were feeling. This event, by far, is the most
incredible Native American athletic event Ive ever seen.
We are just so excited to be here. We cant wait till
next year to get the corporate sponsors involved in this. We are
having a wonderful time the Indian music playing. And its
a hard hitting game. Theyre knocking each other around pretty
good. I couldnt have asked for anything better. Ive
never seen anything like this.
said the game has been going on for seven years and initially began
as a recruiting tool for Haskell Indian Nations University. When
Coach Crock took over the football program the athletic budget was
minimal, so this was a way to locate players they might need at
Haskell. Its hoped that other coaches will attend these
annual games; Harjo knew seven colleges watched the game last year
Griggs father had similar comments when asked why he drove
three athletes up from Arizona. They want to continue on after
high school at the college level. This is an opportunity to probably
have a scout here or just word of mouth. Attending college is one
of the main goals. Even if they dont make the football team
they just want to go on to college.
note from Coeur dAlene Tribe Vice Chairman Ernie Stensgar
was read over the loudspeakers: The Coeur dAlene Tribe
has been honored to host the many athletes from the great Indian
nations. It does our hearts good to see the sportsmanship and skill
they have presented. The players have brought honor to their families
and their tribes. We look forward to seeing them play at the college
Jefferson from Lummi High and Marty Old Horn, Crow, both wide receivers,
were selected as offensive MVPs. Defensive MVPs were Matt Billy,
Oklahoma Choctaw, a lineman, and Merlin Weaselhead, Colville, but
a student at Lakeside High on the Coeur dAlene Reservation,
a defensive back. Game MVP, Joshua Mouse, Cherokee, quarterbacked
the white team to the win.
me, this game will be on the map next year, Cardwell said.
Well have at least six or seven sponsors. No location
has yet been selected; Dallas and Las Vegas are being considered.