"Let's Move" off and running
in Indian Country
By Lailani Upham
High School "Home of the Indians" is hopping to Beyonce's "Move your
body" with a Blackfeet Prairie chicken dance flair for the First Lady
Michele Obama initiative "Let's Move in Indian Country." (Lailani Upham
BROWNING — Earlier this spring Salish Kootenai
College instructor, coach, and two-time Michigan All-State goalie Alex
Alviar launched the first lacrosse league stationed on a Montana Indian
Reservation. This last spring First Lady Michelle Obama launched the
"Let's Move in Indian Country" initiative.
Friday, September 23, the two fitness programs
came together at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Coach Alex Alviar gives a quick lesson on proper lacrosse stick handling. (Lailani Upham photo)
"It's the first event in the state and nation on
an Indian Reservation," said Rachael DeMarce, Montana director for
"Let's Move in Indian Country." DeMarce worked on the initiative this
summer as an intern at the first lady's office. She said bringing it
home was the highlight of the work.
The Obama Administration formed an interagency
collaboration to address the obesity health crisis that young American
Indians and Alaska Natives face. Participants include representatives
from the First Lady's "Let's Move," initiative, the White House
Domestic Policy Council, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture,
Health and Human Services, and Education.
High School students and staff record a "Let's Move in Indian Country"
dance video to be formatted for Youtube and sent to the White House as
the first promotion in Indian country. (Lailani Upham photo)
Three main goals set for the "Let's Move in Indian
Country" include: creating a healthy start on life, developing healthy
learning, and communities increasing physical activity.
Last month students at Browning High School put a
touch of Blackfeet style prairie chicken dance steps to the Beyonce
"Move your body" dance video, thanks to DeMarce pumping up the students
to make it their own.
Lacrosse team members and high school Shay Earthboy, Mike Brown, Dan
Lafranier, and Mariam Branson introduce themselves, where they attend
school, and added a tidbit or two of their interest in lacrosse.
(Lailani Upham photo)
The 10Sticks lacrosse team that is made up of high
school students from several schools across the Flathead Reservation
were invited to join in on the "Let's Move" historic event.
"To be invited to participate in the "Let's Move
in Indian Country" day in Browning is truly an honor to our club and
our players, and we hope it will spark and inspire the community in
Browning to embrace lacrosse, to organize, and to meet us on the
playing fields one day as competitors and friends in this ancient
game," stated Alviar.
The team players took the lead in helping Browning
students learn the basics of lacrosse through a few drills of running
and tossing and eventually a quick scrimmage game. Participants
embraced the game and the players and ended the visit with photographs
and autographs of the young Flathead 10Sticks Lacrosse team members,
according to Alviar.
"To the left, to the left." (Lailani Upham photo)
"We even have two of our athletes, Dan LaFranier
and Al Plant who joined the ranks of the first All-State Lacrosse
players in the state of Montana back in May 2011. Six months ago, we
were a rag tag bunch scrapping for gear, a playing field, jerseys, and
more kids to come and play. I was a brand new coach learning as we went
along. We had a blast. The kids are psyched to play more lacrosse this
coming Spring in 2012, and more great things keep happening."
Lacrosse is known as the oldest sport in the U.S.,
rooted in Native American religion that was often played to resolve
conflicts, heal the sick, and develop strong, virile men, according to
historical records. Many tribes continue to refer to lacrosse as "The
Creator's Game," Alviar explained.
"We believe that playing lacrosse can reduce
obesity rates, improve mental and emotional states and can alleviate
stress and depression. Additionally, more outdoor physical activity and
connection to nature is a proven method for making teenagers
increasingly resistant to suicide," he said.
High School staff and students play a short game of scrimmage with the
10Sticks team after a couple drills of tossing the ball and holding a
lacrosse stick properly. (Lailani Upham photo)
Members of the 10Stick Lacrosse league that
participated in the event were Arlee High School students: Al Plant,
Mike Brown and Ambrose Brown; Polson High School students Dan
LaFranier, Jerome Finley and Meriam Branson; Ronan High School student
Shay Earthboy; and St. Ignatius High School student Shauncee Brave
Alviar said the best part of taking part in the
event was seeing his players motivated about seeing other students play
the game. "I'm really proud at how they represented us." Alviar said
after the team experience of being "ambassadors" for the game of
lacrosse in Indian country, the young men added they would also like to
see a "Let's Move in Indian Country" come to the Flathead Reservation