Montana Tribal Colleges Form Basketball LeagueFeb 15th, 2011 | By tcj | Category: 22-3: Food Sovereignty, Spring 2011, Tribal College News
Last fall, six tribal colleges in Montana formed the Montana Tribal Colleges Basketball League. Representatives from the schools hope that forming a tribal league for both men and women will boost student recruitment and develop Native student athletes.
The six Montana colleges include Fort Belknap College (FBC, Harlem), Blackfeet Community College (BCC, Browning), Stone Child College (SCC, Box Elder), Fort Peck Community College (FPCC, Poplar), Salish Kootenai College (SKC, Pablo), and Little Big Horn College (LBHC, Crow Agency).
FBC representative Gerald Stiffarm says the league’s goal is to help reservation- based youth stay in school, according to a news story in the Great Falls Tribune. He also hopes it will give others an added incentive to attend college.
“(Fort Belknap) is a small reservation,” he told the Tribune. “We have more or less capped out our market so this is an opportunity to attract those who have attempted a four-year school and have dropped out. Maybe they’re in our community doing nothing. We want to bring them back.” He adds that high unemployment rates on reservations are a “haunting ghost” and hopes the league will redirect young people toward education.
Juan Perez coaches women’s basketball and serves as athletic director at Salish Kootenai College, where a basketball program has been in place for four years. He points out that ball players will need to take a certain number of credits in order to play.
In March 2011, the schools plan to participate in the annual American Indian Higher Education Consortium basketball tournament.