fbpx
 

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One hundred and twenty-eight Native youth leagues from all corners of the U.S.—and even into Canada and island country Samoa—will come together for a week of competition and educational speakers July 11-17 in Phoenix, Ariz. 

Registration for the Native American Basketball Invitational—a week-long camp typically showcasing topical workshops specific to Indigenous health and wellness, motivational speakers, and a college and career fair—closed last week. It is the largest Indigenous basketball tournament in North America.

High school teams will travel to the southwest city from Alaska, California, New York, Florida, and many states in between, said Director of Program Operations at NABI, Lynette Lewis.

“We are changing it up this year as far as the format,” Lewis told Native News Online. Covid-19 shut down last year’s invitational for the first time since its formation in 2003, but this summer organizers say a mandated mask policy and scaled-down version of educational programming will get kids back on the courts.

Teams will compete as usual in a “pool play” at four teams per pool. Based on each team’s record, they will get placed into a bracket: typically either silver or gold division. This year, however, the organization eliminated the gold division, so each team will compete in a double elimination structure. Instead of four games, teams will be guaranteed five games each.

But the summit is about way more than the game, organizers say. 

“For us, we are an organization that teaches more than basketball,” Lewis told Native News Online. “We are very education based.” In non-Covid times, organizers invited industry-specific speakers to speak to youth about everything from college enrollment to how to maintain finances, to dealing with substance abuse and addiction. 

The educational youth summit, which in 2019 brought in 18 motivational speakers to the camp, will also be scaled down this year to bring in two speakers for teammates, and one for coaches.

Slated to speak is Shawn Martinez (Navajo), a senior director with the Phoenix Suns, and Desirae Carranza (Gila River/Mojave), Canyon View High School Varsity Girls basketball coach.

Coach Raul Mendoza of the Chinle High School Boys Varsity Basketball in the Navajo Nation, featured in a Netflix docuseries “Basketball or Nothing,” will also join the invitational. 

Championship games are scheduled for July 17 at the newly-renovated Phoenix Suns Arena. A full schedule of events is expected to be posted in late June on the NABI Foundation website. 

The event is sponsored by organizations including KONE Corporation, Freeport McMoRan, Rolling Plains Construction and Arviso-Okland.

“They need a role model,” Lewis said of the incoming players. “They need mentorship. They need all of this.”

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (June 3, 2023): D.C. Briefs
House Passes Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Deal; How Native American Members of Congress Voted
History Made as First Navajo Appointed U.S. Federal Judge in California
California Bill Aims to Increase State Funding for Tribal Housing
Navajo Nation Leaders Recognized the Fallen on Memorial Day

Native News is free to read.

We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps.  Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Senior Reporter
Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.