This week on Minnesota Native News, the Minnesota Vikings recently hosted the 2021 Indigenous Bowl. Two all Indigenous football teams competed in front of friends and family.
On Sunday, December 5th, the Minnesota Vikings partnered with the 7G foundation to host the 2021 Annual Indigenous Bowl. This was the fourth year of the Indigenous Bowl, the first being held in 2017. According to their website, “[t]he Bowl is open to High School Seniors of American Indian descent who have not yet enrolled full-time in college. The event is an opportunity for young, Native athletes to showcase their talent on the football field, work with coaches and mentors, and develop the skills necessary to move to the next level of competition.”
This Bowl is aimed at exposing these young Native athletes to recruiters, with the hopes of being recruited to the collegiate scene. The Bowl opened with a drum line from Little Earth, filling the arena with music. This was followed by a man standing in front of the crowd, with both teams behind him, giving an Anishnawbe welcome prayer
Speaker: It’s an honour to have representation of our Anishnawbe youth, our Indigenous youth to put a face on what we’re doing and I ask for a blessing for them, for their walk in life, to protect them and help them out in all their endeavors, as well as all of us here. To protect us and bless us for this gathering today. Miigwech. Thank you for listening, ahow!
Diego: And then went straight into each teams line ups
Announcer: First off we have Wakiyan Cuny, Lakota, running back. Beau Big Crow, Oglala Lakota Sioux, linebacker. Number three, Zaiden Bernie, Yankton Sioux, quarterback. Number four, Joe Demontiney, Chippewa Cree…
What makes this event unique, is that these are not just tribes from Minnesota and the Midwest, but from all over the country. Many athletes apply and are nominated by coaches to participate in the event, but not all of them are accepted. This year, the teams were divided into the Purple War Chiefs and the Gold Golden Boys. While each team was assigned uniforms, each individual player wore their high school helmet, representing the various schools and tribes across the country.
The coin to decide who received the ball for the first half also had special meaning to it.
Ref: I’ve got a coin today from the National Museum of the American Indian celebrating their National Native Americans Veterans Memorial. The Thunderbird is the head, the Memorial is the tails.
The game was played in front of hundreds. Filled with family, friends, recruiters and football fans alike.[Game sound of fumble]
The War Chiefs scored first, taking a 6-0 lead, but the Golden Boys would respond with three touchdowns in a row, to take an 18-6 lead into half time.[Game sound]
The halftime show was a dance and drum line, with some in the crowd dancing along as well.
There were also interviews with the players, broadcasted on the jumbotron about what this event meant to them and their community.
Player one: It means everything, uh, for the community to bring in Indigenous kids for their own benefit. I think it’s a unique opportunity so take advantage of it.
Player two: I’m looking at it right now, this game’s everything to me. Not only to me playing at the next level, but I feel like, not only do I got my town behind me but my whole country behind me and I gotta represent.
Player three: I’m just here for this opportunity, ya know not much people from my reservation ya know, get this opportunity to go out and do stuff like this so I’m just here to represent my reservation right now.
Player four: I thought it was my last time playing football, and uh, I just think this bowl is just like really good. I get to see other Natives like, playing and succeeding.
For some of these players, this might have been the last time they were putting on the pads and taking the field. And they left it all on the field.
The game ended with a final score of the War Chiefs 14 and the Golden Boys 18.
The closing ceremony was filled with music from the Little Earth Singers as the crowd rushed the field celebrating both teams, with families and friends embracing.
The plan is to continue this Bowl with the support of the Vikings and tribes around the country, as well as people like you.
To learn more about the bowl, you can visit their website, Indigenousbowl.com, or the 7Gfoundation.com.
Diego Luke reporting for Minnesota Native News.
Minnesota Native News is produced by Ampers- diverse radio for Minnesota’s communities. Made possible by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.
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