Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

October 6, 2011

"Let's Move" off and running in Indian Country

By Lailani Upham

Browning 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 photo)
Browning 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 photo)

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)
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.

Browning 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)
Browning 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.

10Sticks 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)
10Sticks 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)
"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.

Browning 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)
Browning 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 Rock.

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 schools soon.

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